One-hundred and fifty employee benefit industry leaders walk into a room . . . and, of course, the International Foundation polled them with a couple questions about their thoughts on retirement security and financial education. This gathering occurred at a recent International Foundation board and committee meeting; the first question asked was, “What is the single, largest influencer when it comes to your workers’ financial decisions?” Almost three out of four (74%) responded that employees are most influenced by family members, friends, coworkers or peers.

Say what? Workers aren’t phased by financial education communication materials from their organization? Never fear, employers have figured this out by now. According to a recent International Foundation report, Financial Education for Today’s Workforce: 2016 Survey Results, two-thirds of organizations surveyed offer financial education and are finding ways to reach those most influential to their employees.

That same report found 40% of employers provide financial education to spouses/partners (a major influence!) In addition, 41% offer financial education opportunities before or after normal working time, and 20% hold educational sessions on the weekends so spouses/partners can participate.

Employers are also reaching employee influencers through “champions.” And it’s not the traditional kind of champions (like my favorite NFL team, the 13-time Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers). Champions are employees who are naturally passionate about the benefit in question—in this case, financial education. Often they embrace the education they receive from their employer and pursue more information on their own, adopting the benefit in their own life and eagerly talking with their co-workers about it as well. This enthusiasm, knowledge and “peer” status grabs their co-workers’ attention and trust.

Another International Foundation report on Benefits Communication showed that, among employers using a champion approach, 75% experienced success using this method. By branching out to influence a new audience, employers are taking that extra step to secure a successful financial future for their employees.

[Related: Benefit Communication and Technology Institute, July 18-19, Boston, Massachusetts]

Polling results are from 150 industry leaders who attended the Financial Education for Retirement Security: Four Approaches presentation at the International Foundation board and committee meeting in conjunction with National Employee Benefits Day. To learn more about what’s working in financial education and view case study video presentations, visit

Anne Killian
Communications Associate at the International Foundation

Anne Patterson

Communications Associate at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation service/product: The innovative member survey efforts and results from the research team.

Benefits-related topics that interest her most: Health care, nontraditional wellness initiatives, employee benefit communication.

Personal Insight: It’s all about balance with Anne. She loves to run and enjoys a good culinary adventure. She’ll jump at the chance to travel or to spend fun times with family and friends, but she’ll also take time to catch her breath with an occasional Netflix binge or diving into a classic novel.

2 thoughts on “Employees’ Biggest Financial Influence? (Sorry, It’s Not You)

  1. Chuck Miller


    “… International Foundation report on Benefits Communication showed that, among employers using a champion approach, 75% experienced success using this method.”

    What’s success? More taking financial education… how many more? How many use the education and how would you know? More savings? Savings for what? More debt reduction? What debts?

    I’s skeptical of terms like success without measures that matter, and measures done over time. Education is one thing, learning is another.

  2. Anne

    Thanks for reading and for the comment, Chuck. Our Benefits Communication survey responses were self-reported from members. We asked them to indicate whether they experienced success using the champion approach within their workplace, defining success however their individual organizations measure it.

Comments are closed.

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