Financial wellness programs expand to meet diverse needs

Bank of America’s 2021 Workplace Benefits Report shows that employers are taking a more holistic approach to employee benefits to address the needs of today’s increasingly diverse workforce. More than 4 in 10 employers now offer support on emerging topics like saving for an emergency, paying down student loan debt and planning for caregiving expenses. And 72% of employers say they offer diversity and inclusion programs or plan to in the next one to two years.

The following findings from the report convey trends in the workforce by age and ethnicity, and highlight the varying needs that employers are looking to address through the expansion of workplace programs.

  • Younger employees are rapidly entering the workforce and tend to be more ethnically diverse

    Ethnic makeup of employees who participated in the 2021 Workplace Benefits Report survey:

    Gen Z and Millennials, ages 18–44: 65% White/Caucasian, 9% Black/African American, 13% Asian, 10% Hispanic or Latino, and 2% Multi-racial; Gen Xers, ages 45–54: 72% White/Caucasian, 10% Black/African American, 10% Asian, 6% Hispanic or Latino, and 1% Multi-racial; Baby Boomers and Silent Generation, ages 55+: 83% White/Caucasian, 4% Black/African American, 7% Asian, 4% Hispanic or Latino, and 1% Multi-racial

    Source: Bank of America 2021 Workplace Benefits Report.

  • Planning for retirement is the primary goal for all employees, but priorities that come in second and third vary by ethnic communities

    Ratings of financial priorities by ethnicity:

    Hispanic/Latino: First financial priority is planning for retirement, second financial priority is buying a house, and third financial priority is paying off credit cards; Asian: First financial priority is planning for retirement, second financial priority is paying off credit cards, and third financial priority is buying a first house; Black/African American: First financial priority is planning for retirement, second financial priority is growing savings to pay for unexpected expenses, and third financial priority is buying a first house; White/Caucasian: First financial priority is planning for retirement, second financial priority is paying off credit cards, and third financial priority is paying off mortgage

    Source: Bank of America 2021 Workplace Benefits Report.

  • Younger employees were more likely to take extraordinary measures to help address the financial impacts of the pandemic

    44% of Gen Z and millennials (ages 18–44) reported that they:

    Made an emergency savings account withdrawal; Got a loan from family or friends; Cashed out an equity award or sold stock; Withdrew funds or borrowed from a 401(k); Withdrew funds from an HSA; Used credit cards to pay for everyday expenses

    Source: Bank of America 2021 Workplace Benefits Report.

  • Over the last eight years, financial wellness programs have expanded to cover a wide spectrum of areas

    Percentage of employers offering help with specific financial wellness topics:

    Budgeting: 60% in 2021 footnote 1, 14% in 2013 footnote 2; Debt: 53% in 2021 footnote 1, 15% in 2013 footnote 2; Saving for college: 49% in 2021 footnote 1, 13% in 2013 footnote 2; Planning for healthcare costs: 71% in 2021 footnote 1, 38% in 2013 footnote 2; Saving for retirement: 83% in 2021 footnote 1, 70% in 2013 footnote 2

    1 Bank of America 2021 Workplace Benefits Report.

    2 Bank of America 2013 Workplace Benefits Report.

Key takeaways

Download the 2021 Workplace Benefits Report and discuss the findings and potential opportunities to enhance your financial wellness programs with your Bank of America representative.

Join our webcast, “Workplace Benefits Report: Financial Wellness in an increasingly diverse workplace,” on October 26 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern to get an in-depth perspective on the findings and actionable takeaways. Register today.

Encourage employees to use the Financial Wellness Tracker, if available, to assess their financial health and get suggested steps to help improve it.

Promote an inclusive environment that helps engage employees wherever they are in their financial journeys with humility, sensitivity, respect and understanding to help each employee live better financially.

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. Bank of America was not identified as the sponsor.