Employees are not feeling as financially fit despite an increase in the number of companies offering financial wellness programs, according to a report from Bank of America.
Fifty-five percent of employees rated their own financial wellness as good or excellent, down from 61% a year ago, the report found.
However, more employees rated their wellness as average (29% in 2019 vs. 20% in 2018) and fewer rated their wellness as poor or fair (16% in 2019 vs. 19% in 2018).
Women lagged men in their assessment of their financial well-being, with 43% reporting feeling financially well, compared with 65% of men reporting the same.
The number of companies offering financial wellness programs, however, more than doubled over the past four years. Fifty-three percent of companies today provide financial wellness programs, up from 24% in 2015, according to the report.
"While we should celebrate the increasing prevalence of financial wellness programs, more can be done to drive discussion and engagement about benefits that support employees' complex financial journeys, including caregiving duties, rising health-care costs and funding longer lives," said Lorna Sabbia, head of retirement and personal wealth solutions at Bank of America, in a news release.
Neither employees nor employers showed a true understanding of health savings accounts. Only 11% of employees and 7% of employers correctly identified four basic attributes of HSAs even though 57% of employees and 65% of employers said they had a good understanding of the accounts.
In assessing their financial well-being, employees were not taking health-care costs into account, the report said. For example, when employees were asked about the core building blocks of financial wellness, managing health-care costs ranked last. More than half (53%) reported skipping or postponing at least one important medical activity to save money, including appointments (32%), tests/procedures (21%) and medication purchases (14%).
The report is based on a nationwide survey of 996 employees and 804 employers in February.