EXCLUSIVE: Almost nine in 10 employers feel responsibility to provide financial wellbeing


EXCLUSIVE: Almost nine in 10 (88%) HR and benefit professionals have stated that it is their responsibility to provide support to employees on financial wellbeing, according to research by Smarterly.

Realigning the workplace savings offering to meet the needs of millennials, which surveyed 1,248 employees and 508 HR professionals in the UK, also found that 83% of employer respondents already have some form of support in place to help the financial wellbeing of staff aged between 18 and 34. This includes one-to-one consultations with advisers, online financial education material and financial education seminars.

Comparatively, 86% of employees with financial concerns said that they would accept financial support from their employer, while 66% of all employees surveyed think that having this type of support from their organisation would make them feel more comfortable in making financial decisions.

Almost three in 10 (28%) employers feel that they should only be responsible for providing a pension, rather than other forms of saving vehicles; a further 59% stated that, although other financial needs are important, pensions are still the priority. A small minority (6%) commented that all financial needs should be addressed equally at work, and only 22% of organisations offer other workplace saving vehicles, such as an individual savings account (Isa), in addition to a pension.

This contrasts with employee priorities in certain generations. For example, just 9% of millennial respondents state that saving for retirement is their number one financial concern, whereas 66% of employers feel this is the number one priority for all of their staff. In comparison, 40% of those aged 55 or over, and 35% of employees aged between 35 and 44, noted concerns about saving for retirement.

The majority (91%) of employee respondents suffer from money worries, and 71% would use robo-guidance or a robo-investing service if it was introduced by their employer.

Steve Watson (pictured), head of proposition at Smarterly, said: “Financial wellbeing is more encompassing than pensions, so it’s worrying that 80% of decision-makers at UK organisations aged over 55 still say that pension provision is the priority, and only 20% recognise the need for a wider approach.

“Younger decision-makers between 25 and 34, on the other hand, are more in tune with the needs of today’s workforce, with far less (53%) saying pensions is the priority. People, young and old, need to be supported throughout their working lives by workplace savings, not just pensions. Although retirement is still a final destination, there are many other stops along the way.”

Michael Johnson, research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and Corporate Affairs and policy adviser at Smarterly, added: “Millennials’ desire for flexibility and personalisation is at odds with how many workplace benefits packages have traditionally been designed.

“The first step towards personalisation could be to segment the workforce by age cohort. There is mounting evidence, for example, that millennials, aged 18 to 40, aspire to own their first home ahead of saving for retirement.”