Ris­ing health costs hurt­ing re­tire­ment con­tri­bu­tions

Employee Benefit News - - CONTENTS - BY PAULA AVEN GLADYCH

Stressed out over fi­nances, more em­ploy­ees are look­ing for guid­ance from their em­ploy­ers.

RIS­ING HEALTH­CARE costs have had a dra­matic im­pact on the abil­ity of work­ers to save for re­tire­ment and other fi­nan­cial goals.

The lat­est Bank of Amer­ica Mer­rill Lynch Work­place Ben­e­fits Re­port finds that of the work­ers who have ex­pe­ri­enced ris­ing health­care costs, more than half say they are con­tribut­ing less to their fi­nan­cial goals as a re­sult, in­clud­ing more than six in 10 who say they are sav­ing less for re­tire­ment.

Fi­nan­cial stress also is play­ing a big role in em­ployee phys­i­cal health, with nearly six in 10 em­ploy­ees say­ing it has had a neg­a­tive im­pact on their phys­i­cal well-be­ing. This stress weighs most heav­ily on mil­len­ni­als at 68%, com­pared with baby boomers at 51%, ac­cord­ing to the re­search.

Be­cause of these dire statis­tics, more em­ploy­ees are look­ing to their em­ployer to help them with fi­nan­cial chal­lenges.

“We spend a lot of our wak­ing time work­ing, and a lot of our fi­nances are made up of the com­pen­sa­tion and ben­e­fits our em­ployer pro­vides,” says Sylvie Feast, di­rec­tor of fi­nan­cial guid­ance ser­vices for Bank of Amer­ica Mer­rill Lynch. “[Em­ployer’s] health­care and 401(k) plans are re­ally val­ued by em­ploy­ees. I don’t think it’s sur­pris­ing that they are look­ing to their em­ployer to help pro­vide ac­cess to ways to bet­ter man­age their fi­nances.”

And be­cause em­ploy­ers of­fer health­care and re­tire­ment ben­e­fits, it isn’t a stretch for work­ers to ex­pect their em­ploy­ers to of­fer fi­nan­cial well­ness as a ben­e­fit, Feast says. “There’s no sil­ver bul­let, but a con­tin­u­ing evo­lu­tion of try­ing new things to see what works and has an im­pact with the work­force,” she says, adding that on­line tools, ed­u­ca­tional con­tent, pro­fes­sional sem­i­nars in the work­place and per­sonal con­sul­ta­tions can be es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive.

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