Employers struggle to cater for employees' financial needs

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UK employers are struggling to support their workforce’s financial needs, according to Thomsons Online Benefits

The Future of Financial Wellness report, which compared the views of 700 employees and HR and reward professionals at large companies in the UK, found a disparity between employee expectations and what employers are offering to support financial wellness in the workplace.

The research found that while 97% of employers provide a pensions scheme, only 7% offer any type of retirement planning support, despite 65% of employees citing this as desirable.

Only 15% of UK employers have a financial education programme, which is concerning in light of the UK's lower than average financial literacy score (ranked 15th out of 30 countries according to a 2016 OECD study).

Accessibility of benefits was also found to be an issue, with more than two-thirds (68%) of employees stating they want a single place to access all their benefits, but only 16% of employers offering this. More than half (54%) wanted access to benefits information on their mobile, yet only 28% of companies offer this. Half of employees (52%) wanted single sign-on access to their benefits but only 27% of employers offer this.

The report also explored the positive impact of employers catering more closely to employees' financial needs. Those with access to benefits via a mobile app were found to be more engaged with their benefits (34% compared with 21%). Those with a financial education programme reported employees twice as likely to be very or extremely engaged (38% compared with 19%).

David Dodd, consulting director at Thomsons Online Benefits, said the business case for offering financial wellness benefits is clear. “Employers have a responsibility to improve employee financial wellness not just as a duty of care, but to optimise employee engagement and business productivity,” he said. “Only offering a pension and life assurance won’t cut it with a multi-generational workforce who need broader financial support beyond retirement options.”

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