Employee financial wellness programs

In recent years, the number of financial wellness programs (FWPs) have increased significantly, yet they operate at a small scale, and evidence concerning their efficacy is limited. New, scalable models must be developed to reach and serve economically vulnerable populations. Employer-sponsored FWPs have the potential to reach low- to moderate-income households at a much larger scale than community-based programs and in a financially sustainable manner. Also, employer-sponsored FWPs are promising because of an existing stable infrastructure for delivery. 

Yet this new and emerging field lacks a standard definition of workplace FWPs, and FWPs vary greatly in what they offer. Little is known about 

  • all of the types of FWPs offered in the workplace;
  • attractive product and service design features;
  • the likelihood of and barriers to uptake among LMI workers;
  • the value of these programs from the perspectives of both employers and employees, and;
  • what factors affect an employer’s decision to offer a FWP.​ 

By better understanding the features, attractiveness, demand and perceived benefits of employer-based FWPs, well-designed programs with the potential for large-scale implementation can be developed and rigorously evaluated. 

The Center for Social Development is collaborating with companies throughout the country that offer FWPs to conduct an employer survey to better understand the motivations for and experiences with offering FWPs to employees. The center also will conduct interviews using a subsample of the employers. All employers also will be asked to provide available administrative data to help estimate the effects of FWPs.

In addition, CSD will conduct an individual survey by adding a FWP module to the Household Financial Survey of the Refund to Savings initiative. The study will address these three questions:

  • Does access to employer-based FWPs improve the perception of financial wellness of employees? 
  • What is the level of demand, and perceived value, for employers offering a FWP to employees? 
  • What is the level of demand for, and use of, FWPs by employees?​