How employees use their benefits to manage their financial lives

Staying on top of one’s finances these days is becoming increasingly complex, and not everyone is starting in the same place. This can make it especially challenging for employers to provide comprehensive workplace benefits and education to help get and keep employees on the right path.

Understanding how employees engage with their benefits, where various employee segments are doing well and where they might need additional support and guidance, can help improve workplace benefits and educational programs. Our 2022 Financial Life Benefits® Impact Report analyzes participant data and behavior across our proprietary benefits programs to identify trends, pull out insights and spark dialogue. And we can use these insights to help advance our work together to give employees the tools and confidence they need to take charge of their financial lives.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Employees continue to struggle with pressing, short-term needs

    17% have not considered their financial goals. 8% are planning for caregiving expenses.
  • Employees continue to struggle with pressing, short-term needs

    Among employees with less than $100,000 in household income. 32% have less than $1,000 saved for an unexpected emergency. 26% have less than $500 saved for an unexpected emergency.
  • 401(k) balances are growing but significant gender disparities exist

    With rising account balances across the board, there is still a gap between men and women. Average 401(k) account balances were $90,000 at the end of 2021 vs. $81,000 in 2020. Average balances by gender: $70,000 for women; $108,000 for men.
  • 401(k) auto features are driving up average plan participation

    Auto features continue to be effective plan design, driving an average plan participation of 84%  vs. just 37% in plans without auto enroll.
  • Companies are offering richer equity awards at all levels

    68% increase in the average value of equity awards. 41% of awards were granted to employees with 0-10 years of service.
  • HSAs help employees cover health care expenses and save for the future

    Average account balances up by 23% since 2020 and 15% higher than the national average. 26% of HSA participants contributed more than they withdrew. 13% of accounts are invested in the market for potential future growth, compared to an average of 7% nationally.

    * Devenir 2021 Year-End Health Savings Account Research Report, March 2022.

  • Employees are assessing and taking action on their financial wellness

    Avergae financial wellness tracker score for men (67/100) and Women (59/100).

    The Financial Wellness Tracker calculates scores based on responses to questions, as well as some underlying calculations and are evaluated against the attributes of a financially well individual. The score takes into account: 1) Personal information such as age, dependents and household income; 2) Key financial information, including savings and expenses; and 3) The financial behaviors exhibited. Each question and answer is worth a certain number of points. Point values vary and one aggregate score is calculated to provide an individual their score.

  • Digital adoption continues to grow

    13% increase in active Bank of America Benefits OnLine mobile app users, 35% increase over 2020 with 2 million HSA learn Center visits in 2021. 30% open rate for myFuture publications with 1.2 million blog recipients.

Key takeaways

This report monitors plan participants’ behavior and sponsors’ adoption of new plan design features and services in our proprietary employee benefits programs, which comprise $280 billion in total client assets and 3.1 million total participants with positive retirement balances as of December 31, 2021.

All data is derived from Bank of America Retirement and Benefit Plan Services platform unless otherwise noted (as of December 31, 2021).