New research: Baby boomer decision-makers not convinced about financial wellbeing in the workplace

It seems that the age of company decision-makers is impacting financial wellbeing in the workplace.

Data from 500 UK employers shows that the individual priorities of those setting the employee benefits agenda impacts financial wellbeing support offered to employees. Baby boomer decision-makers are less convinced about the importance of financial wellbeing than their younger counterparts, according to the new research from Smarterly, which found:

  • 82% of under 25 decision-makers think that it’s the employer’s role to support employee financial wellbeing, compared with only 35% of 55+ year old decision-makers
  • 45% of under 25 year old employees say they would take up an offer of support around their financial concerns from the employer; only 28% of 55+ year olds say the same
  • 50% of under 25 year old decision-makers have already launched workplace ISAs, compared with only 6% of over 55 year old decision-makers

As part of the research, ‘Realigning workplace savings to meet the needs of millennials’, UK decision-makers wer­­­­e asked: Is it the employer’s role to support employee financial wellbeing? Eighty-two percent of those under the age of 25 said ‘definitely’, while only 35% of over 55-year olds agreed with this choice.

Indeed, this correlates with employee views on employer support. As part of the same research employees were asked: If your employer provided support with your financial concerns would you take up the offer? 45% of under 25 years olds said they would, compared to only 28% of baby boomers.

Steve Watson, head of proposition of Smarterly, said:

“We know that unconscious bias impacts recruitment decisions, but it seems that it could be affecting the level of support employers give employees too. Financial wellbeing is an important part of the employee benefit mix and so it’s worrying that decision-makers at UK organisations aged over 55 are not as convinced as their younger counterparts.

“Younger decision-makers, on the other hand, are more in tune with the needs and wishes of today’s workforce – with over 80% seeing it as an important employer-provided benefit.

“People – young and old – need to be supported throughout their working lives and a good financial wellbeing programme can provide this.”

The new findings from Smarterly, which helps employees build healthy savings habits, show that financial wellbeing in the workplace continues to primarily focus on pensions and pensions guidance, which is not a priority for millennials. They welcome more support on making savings for the short to medium term.

Michael Johnson, Research Fellow for the Centre for Policy Studies and Corporate Affairs and Policy Adviser to Smarterly, adds:

“Millennials’ desire for flexibility and personalisation is at odds with how many workplace benefits packages have traditionally been designed. Historically, “the scheme” has been the focus with little attention paid to the wants and needs of individual employees. 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. 

“Rent is, after all, “dead money”. Consequently, the inability to access funds tied up in pension savings products is relatively unattractive when compared to other vehicles that do offer flexibility of access. These include a Workplace ISA, in the form of a Lifetime ISA, which attracts a 25% bonus on contributions, paid irrespectively of tax-paying status.”

The independent research takes into consideration views from 1248 employees and 508 HR professionals in UK businesses.