Over the past decade or so we’ve all seen big employers doing all they can to get more involved (for better or worse) in the personal lives of their employees. If you work for a big company, there’s a good chance that you are familiar with this trend. Maybe you have to enroll for a wellness program in order to qualify for cheaper insurance through your employer. This is very common in corporate America these days. But there is a new type of wellness program that employers are starting to roll out to their employees – financial wellness/education services.girl, young woman having financial problems

Capital One, Chace and BOA are just a few of the big banks that are researching the potential to offer different types of financial education in the workplace. These financial firms seem to be responding to a real demand that exists. A recent Harris poll indicates that 86 percent of employees said that it is “important for employers to offer financial wellness programs. About 93 percent of big companies stated that they want to assist their employees more and to help them get a better understanding of their finances.

The McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union of New York has become one of the biggest supporters of this type of program. This credit union began to offer a course called “Financial Wellness in the Workplace” to a medium sized company in New York earlier in the year. This program doesn’t just offer assistance with the company’s 401k program; it offers training on debt, credit, buying homes, budgeting and much more.

The President and CEO of the credit union, Shawn Gilfeder said, “Folks are clamoring for this and they just don’t know where to find it. We do think the niche here is the workplace environment. If you ask the employees if they’d pay a sum of money to have that opportunity individually, they would say no. But if it’s offered in the workplace, they’re happy to participate.”

A report done for the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, delved into financial wellness programs that are offered by nine separate employers and discovered that they made efforts to offer valid information to people that was not commercially driven or biased. This report also found that employees who get involved with retirement planning seminars are more financially literate and many of these folks actually alter their retirement savings plan after attending educational seminars. Some even delayed their retirements once they found that they did not have enough money saved up.

The McGraw Hill Credit Union program eases participants into the process by doing lunch and learn sessions that touch on topics like identity protection, credit scores and smart budgeting tips. There are nearly 300 employees that participate in person, and more that participate remotely. The folks behind this program have been taken aback by how coworkers share information and talk about important financial topics that usually don’t get much conversation time.

Education is always a good thing. The thing that people will need to make sure is that they are learning about their finances via educators that are not trying to sell services or to offer biased opinions about these topics. And employers need to make sure that they don’t get too invasive about how they offer these services to their employees. Allowing people to participate is one thing; forcing them to – as many companies do with their health and wellness programs – is not going to sit well with people. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how many employers jump on the bandwagon and begin offering these types of educational services to their workers in the near future.