Where do many Americans make their most important decisions about taxes, retirement, health insurance, and other financial issues? At work. That’s why we recently held a field hearing in Atlanta of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) to talk about workplace financial education.
We heard from business and nonprofit leaders, brought together by the Georgia Consortium for Personal Financial Literacy, who talked with Director Cordray about their experiences with financial education at work. In an earlier meeting, Director Cordray heard from ministers representing the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta about student loan debt and other consumer issues and how these issues were contributing to finance stress among their parishioners.
At the FLEC field hearing, Director Cordray spoke about why the workplace is an ideal place for financial education and suggested it can be good business for employers to help relieve employees’ financial stress (transcript). Dr. Katherine Sauer of the University of Colorado provided three reasons why employers should consider financial education at work:
- More and more employees come to work but their minds are on their personal situation (“presenteeism”).
- As employees move from job to job, it gets harder for them to manage the rising number of retirement accounts and decisions.
- Growing numbers of employees need help juggling the financial stress of caring for children and aging parents at the same time.
A lot of money is at stake
For employers, about 30 cents of each dollar spent on employee compensation is spent on benefits. If employees don’t make the most of their health, retirement, and other benefits, neither employees nor employers get the full value of the benefits investments. The most effective financial education can be delivered at the point when employees are making their benefits decisions—“just in time” modules that guide them through enrollment and action steps.
Help is available now
If you’re an employer or human resources professional, feel free to share these no-cost resources with employees:
- Managing Someone Else’s Money, a series of four booklets that help financial caregivers.
- Ask CFPB, a searchable database of reliable answers to over 1,000 common consumer questions.
- Paying for College, an interactive tool for families and students to evaluate their college options.
- Guides and resources for homeowners and home buyers.
- Public Service Employers’ Guide for Assisting Employees with Student Loan Repayment.