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Employees increasingly expect companies to provide financial wellness benefits, new Prudential research shows.

By John Chartier

August 02, 2019

You’re a newly minted college graduate or maybe a mid-career job switcher. Would you even consider working for a company that didn’t offer health benefits?

Likely not.

But 70 years ago, that was the norm. Before World War II, Americans paid for most medical expenses out of pocket. Soon after the war, companies began offering group health benefits thinking it would be temporary. But it took hold and that became a non-negotiable for employment.

Today, the same trend is emerging with financial wellness benefits. Although the conversation around financial wellness is mainly between employers, intermediaries and wellness program providers, employees are beginning to expect financial wellness programs to be included in workplace benefits programs, according to “Wellness Programs Earn Their Place in Human Capital Strategy,” the first in a series of new thought leadership papers from Prudential that examines the five keys to implementing a financial wellness program.

It’s not surprising. Americans are feeling financially stressed. It’s impacting their work performance, and employers are taking notice. Prudential’s 2017 “The State of Financial Wellness in America” study shows that financial stress can compromise both an employee’s physical health and their workplace productivity.

According to the Prudential report, 57% of employees said they were very or somewhat stressed about their financial wellness. Three in 10 said financial stress was impacting their job performance, and about a third tried to find another job to improve their financial stability. More than half believe they will need to delay retirement.

Employers are listening. Eighty-two percent believe their companies would benefit from having a financially secure workforce. And many are now providing education programs, services, tools and solutions for their employees as part of a holistic approach to wellness, Prudential’s research shows.

Employees are responding. They believe companies are well-positioned to help improve their overall wellness. In fact, 75% of employees see their employer as a trusted source of help and that financial wellness programs demonstrate their employers care about them.

And that makes employees more productive. Prudential research shows six in 10 workers say they are more dedicated to their employer and more productive at work when their employer demonstrates a commitment to their financial wellness.

“We are witnessing a shift in employee expectations with regard to employers offering financial wellness programs in much the same way health benefits quickly became a non-negotiable for employees,” said Matt Bahl, vice president of financial wellness customer strategies at Prudential. “It’s about more than just helping them financially. It’s about helping them improve their lives.”

So, what does a robust and successful financial wellness program look like? It might offer emergency fund features built into the company’s defined contribution retirement plan, providing quick access to funds when needed.

It might include budgeting and debt management tools, discounted on-site day care facilities, workplace accommodations for individuals with disabilities, and health coaching to prevent issues from arising and ultimately lowering out-of-pocket health care costs.

In the end, the most effective financial wellness programs, and those most attractive to employees, are ones that are customizable to meet employees where they are and that have broad appeal—to people of different income levels, generations and lifestyle choices.

“It’s about more than just helping people financially,” said Bahl. “It’s about helping people lead more meaningful, more satisfying lives. And it’s helping employers attract talent. In today’s fast-moving economy, that’s a key competitive advantage.”

Interested in speaking with Matt Bahl? Please contact Monique Freeman at



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