Bank of America Study Finds 95% of Employers Feel a Sense of Responsibility for Financial Wellness of Employees

September 22, 2021 at 9:00 AM Eastern

Bank of America today announced findings from its 11th annual Workplace Benefits Report (PDF), which revealed 95% of employers feel a sense of responsibility for the financial wellness of their employees, up from 81% in 20151, and more than half (56%) feel extremely responsible. The report also found that over the last year, more employers are offering financial wellness programs (46%, up from 40% in 20202) and expanding several types of financial wellness support. More than two-in-five employers now offer access to financial advisors (47%), support for developing good financial habits (45%), and access to financial products or services (42%), up from 40%, 39% and 33% in 20202, respectively.

The survey also found that, as the workforce becomes increasingly diverse, employers are taking a more holistic approach to programs that address their employees overall wellness. In fact, 72% of employers offer diversity and inclusion programs or plan to in the next one-to-two years, and 55% are taking steps to support an intergenerational workforce. And the approach is paying off, with 57% of employers saying that providing resources to help employees manage their overall well-being has driven increased productivity.

“The role of workplace benefits and wellness programs in improving employees’ quality of life is more important than ever, and it’s encouraging to see higher reported well-being among employees amid the pandemic,” said Lorna Sabbia, Head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America. “While we should celebrate the increasing prevalence and expansion of these programs, more can still be done to empower and support employees’ throughout their often complex financial journeys.”

Based on a nationwide survey of 1,363 employees and 834 employers, the Workplace Benefits Report examines trends related to workplace financial benefits and wellness programs. Other key findings include:

  • Employee feelings of financial wellness are rebounding. As employers continue their efforts to improve wellness initiatives, half (51%) of employees rate their financial wellness as good or excellent, up from 49% in 20202, and making progress toward pre-pandemic levels in 20193 (55%).
  • Younger employee populations have more gender and ethnic diversity. Women make up 69% of Generation Z and Millennial (ages 18-44) employee groups vs. 51% of Baby Boomer and Silent Generation employee groups (ages 55+). Younger employee populations are significantly more ethnically diverse as well.
  • Workplace benefits programs must go beyond financial topics. Employees say their mental (60%), physical (54%) and financial (46%) health significantly impacts their overall well-being, yet only one-third of employers communicate about mental and physical health more than twice a year.
  • Healthcare is an area for improvement. Only 35% of employers offer a high-deductible health plan which would give employees access to a Health Savings Account (HSA). Among eligible employees, the use of HSAs is significant, with 68% of Gen Z and Millennial employee groups contributing to their HSA, 84% of Generation Xers (ages 45-54), and 74% of Baby Boomer and Silent Generation employee groups.
  • Debt remains a challenge. 88% of Black/African American employees, 87% of Hispanic/Latino employees, 81% of White/Caucasian and 60% of Asian employees currently hold some type of debt. Employers are responding to this challenge, as 53% now offer help with debt as a part of their financial wellness program, up from 15% in 20134.
  • Employees crave professional advice and guidance. Employees listed access to a financial advisor, information on retirement plans and help developing financial skills and good financial habits as the top three areas where they desire greater support from employers.

Financial wellness and stress levels vary based on employees’ ethnicity and generation

According to the report, younger generations entering the workforce are more ethnically diverse – and both age and ethnicity play a critical role in employees’ sense of financial stress and wellness:

  • Employees across various ethnicities reported fairly consistent levels of overall financial well-being, however 40% of Black/African American, 38% of Hispanic/Latino, 26% of Asian and 22% of Caucasian employees say financial stress negatively impacts their productivity at work.
  • Younger generations are lagging their older counterparts when it comes to financial wellness. Less than half of Gen Z/Millennials (48%) and Gen X (48%) rank themselves as financially well, compared to 58% of Baby Boomers/Silent Generation.
  • Gen Z/ Millennials (93%) and Gen X (94%) were also more likely to say they feel stress when thinking about their financial situation, when compared with Baby Boomers/Silent Generation (84%).

Women continue to lag men in financial wellness

Women continue to trail their male counterparts in their feelings about financial wellness and preparedness. Forty-seven percent of women rate their financial wellness as good or excellent, compared to more than half of men (57%). Additional differences between men and women include:

  • 92% of women feel some level of stress about their financial situation, compared to 88% of men. Women are also twice as likely to be kept up at night by financial stress (11% vs. 5%).
  • Women are more likely than men to have credit card debt (53% vs. 43%) and to have student loans (25% vs. 17%). They’re also more likely to be adversely affected by this debt. Fifty-nine percent don’t have control over their debt (compared to 50% of men); and 32% say debt impacts their ability to achieve their goals, compared to 23% of men.
  • Saving for retirement is the top financial priority for men and women alike, however a smaller percentage of women are prioritizing saving (34% vs. 46% of men).

“As the age, gender and ethnicity of workforces becomes more diverse, the variations of support needed by employees will continue to expand,” said Kevin Crain, Head of Workplace Solutions Integration at Bank of America. “We believe a more diverse workforce will look to employers to provide tailored solutions for help in achieving their goals. Through programs such as our Financial Life Benefits offering, Bank of America is committed to partnering with employers to embrace diversity and provide wellness programs catering to the unique needs of all employees.”

Bank of America’s Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions organization serves more than 26,000 companies of all sizes and more than 5.7 million employees as of December 31, 20205. Bank of America offers institutional client employees a range of financial benefit programs to help them pursue their financial future.

More findings, including action steps for employers, are available in the Bank of America 2021 Workplace Benefits Report.

Workplace Benefits Report Methodology

Escalent surveyed a national sample of 1,363 employees who are working full-time and participate in 401(k) plans, and 834 employers who offer both a 401(k) plan and have sole or shared responsibility for decisions made in the plan. The survey was conducted between December 28, 2020 and February 8, 2021. To qualify for the survey, employees had to be current participants of a 401(k) plan and employers had to offer a 401(k) plan option. Neither was required to work with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Bank of America Merrill Lynch was not identified as the sponsor of the study. Bank of America Retirement & Benefit Plan Services empower employers and employees to take action and work toward their financial goals today and into retirement.

Financial Wellness at Bank of America

At Bank of America, we know that supporting the physical, financial and emotional wellbeing of our employees in their personal life also supports them in their work life — so they can be the best at work and at home. When it comes to financial wellness, we believe that the more informed people are about their money, the clearer their financial outlook can be. This applies not just to our clients, but to our employees, as well. This is why we offer robust financial offerings to our employees that focus on driving better behaviors across life priorities and the financial spectrum — budgeting, planning, saving, investing and more. Our competitive financial benefits – including 401(k) plans that include a company match, retirement advice6, health savings accounts7, banking8 and investing9 programs, educational resources and financial wellness tools – help employees address money issues in the here-and-now, prepare for retirement and help protect their family over the long term.

Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 66 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 4,300 retail financial centers, approximately 17,000 ATMs, and award-winning digital banking with approximately 41 million active users, including approximately 32 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and approximately 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Reporters may contact:

Don Vecchiarello, Bank of America
Phone: 1.980.387.4899



1 2015 Workplace Benefits Report

2 2020 Workplace Benefits Report

3 2019 Workplace Benefits Report

4 2013 Workplace Benefits Report

5 Source: Global Wealth and Investment Management Finance.

6 Investment advice on 401(k) assets is only provided to plan participants through certain investment advisory programs as directed by plan sponsors.

7 Made available through Bank of America, N.A.

8 Bank products are available from Bank of America, N.A., and affiliated banks.

9 Investment products are available from Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.


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