Measuring the Success of Wellness Programs Remains Elusive


Measuring the Success of Wellness Programs Remains Elusive

The impact of financial wellness programs must be clearly quantified to prove that they are worthwhile

August 2019, BOSTON - Measurement of success and return on investment (ROI) for plan sponsors are the most consistently discussed impediments to the adoption and effective implementation of financial wellness programs. Cerulli Associates, a global research and consulting firm, finds that providers continue to question how to clearly quantify the impact of financial wellness programs.

Financial wellness programs emphasize holistic advice beyond an individual’s workplace retirement savings account and address topics such as budgeting, debt management, and healthcare expenses. While improved education on these topics offers employees a better understanding of how to budget and plan for life expenses, plan sponsors are challenged by the costs associated with the programs and proving the benefits.

Some plan sponsors are flexible and want to feel comfortable that the financial wellness program is helping employees at a reasonable price. Others, however, maintain strict budget policies that require achieving a specific return on investment to secure program funding. Cerulli recommends that providers operate under the assumption that plan sponsors want hard facts rather than “a feeling of comfort.”

To effectively measure the success of a financial wellness program, providers must collaborate with plan sponsors (and their advisors/consultants) to determine specific goals for the program and a reasonable timeframe in which to achieve them. Cerulli’s research maintains that financial wellness programs should be grounded in metrics that impact a company’s bottom line, but acknowledges that many employers have goals such as “improve workplace morale” and “retain top employees” that are functions of employee attitudes and behaviors. Some goals, such as improving employees’ retirement readiness (27%), are straightforward to measure. Others, such as improving financial literacy (30%), increasing workplace productivity (20%), and decreasing employee stress (14%), are more nebulous and/or difficult to directly attribute to a financial wellness initiative.

To benchmark success, providers should consider leveraging recordkeepers’ digital platforms to track participant behavior (e.g., click rates, interactions per website visit) and engage with advisors/consultants to consolidate data from each of a plan sponsor’s financial wellness vendors.

These findings and more are from the August 2019 issue of The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Asset and Wealth Management Edition, which uncovers how providers of employer-sponsored retirement plans and fixed-indexed annuities are providing solutions to address retirement savers’ asset shortfalls.

These findings and more are from: The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Asset and Wealth Management Edition, August 2019 Issue.


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