BLACKSBURG, Oct. 28, 1997 -- Employer sponsored
retirement plans, investments, credit and money management, consumer
laws and regulations: in the 1990s, people are expected to know
about these topics and to manage their personal finances effectively.
But where can they learn what they need to know?
Increasingly, the responsibility of providing
personal finance education and services is falling to employers--not
only because they have access to the resources that can make such
programs a valuable employee benefit, but also because it saves
them money in the long run by increasing employee satisfaction
and improving productivity. Like programs many corporations now
offer employees in substance abuse counseling and health and fitness,
programs in personal finance employee education (PFEE) are proving
to be a valuable investment for employers and a sought-after benefit
In fact, personal finance employee education
is emerging as one of the most critical issues facing employers
today, due in large part to E. Thomas Garman's groundbreaking
research on the subject. Garman, a professor of consumer affairs
and family financial management in the College of Human Resources and Education
at Virginia Tech, is heading a nationwide effort to increase awareness
of the problems created by poor financial behavior by employees
and the way in which employer-sponsored "financial wellness"
programs can help.
Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 5 and 6, a conference on "Personal Finance Employee Education: Best Practices" will be held at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. Participants will have the opportunity to share research information, and resources that promote the best practices of personal finance and employee education in the private and non-profit sectors, with the twin goals of increasing employee productivity and the employer's bottom line. Speakers will include more than 30 experts from industry, academia, and government. Among them:
- Don M. Blandin, President, American Savings Education Council
- Ann Foster, Economist, Division of Compensation Levels and Trends, Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Peter J. Darby, Bureau of Personnel Management, Department of theUS Navy
- Kristen Bender, Associate Consultant, Watson Wyatt
- Jane Schuchardt, National Program Leader, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, US Department of Agriculture
- Judith Cohart, Vice President, National Foundation for Consumer Credit
- Grady Cash, President, Center for Financial Well-Being
- Madeleine d'Ambrosio, Vice President, TIAA-CREF
- William Pomeroy, President, The EDSA Group
- Ray DiPaula, Corporate Retiree Relations Manager, United Parcel Service
- Edie S. Milligan, President, Keeping Track, Inc.
- Marysue J. Wechsler, Vice President, the PFE Group, Inc.
- J.B. Maxwell, First Vice President, Gruntal and Company
Topics will include employer sponsored retirement
plans, employee benefits, credit and money management, consumer
laws and regulations, and financial education and worker productivity.
Model programs discussed will include the US Navy's personal financial
Garman, who is hosting the PFEE conference, has done extensive research in the areas of personal finance and worker productivity. According his recently published study:
- approximately 15 percent of workers in the United States are experiencing stress from financial problems to the extent that their productivity on the job is negatively impacted
- 25 to 30 percent of workers report high work stress, and among the five major risk stressors (relationships, work, health, crime/violence, and personal finance), personal finance is rated by workers as the number one source of stress
- over one-third of America's workforce report that money worries sometimes hamper job performance
- half of workers who do not contribute to their pension plans fail to because they have credit and money management problems.
"A growing number of employers now
realize that financial education is a key factor in both recruitment
and retention," Garman says. "Workers who overuse credit
and mismanage their personal finances are costly to their employers
because they are overstressed, which results in absences, overuse
of health care resources, more accidents, and poor workplace morale.
They also are less likely to participate in an employer's retirement
plan. In contrast, the best workers typically are people who are
in control of their personal finances and who maximize their pension
contributions. These employees are happier with their financial
lives and it shows in their work. Personal financial wellness
increases employee productivity, and our 'best practices' conferences
will prove it beyond a doubt."
Garman estimates the return on employer
investment in a personal finance employee education program is
probably a 5 to 1 dollar ratio, as is the case in other employee
assistance programming. "Offering financial wellness services
for employees is a win-win situation for both employers and employees,"
The "Personal Finance Employee Education:
Best Practices" conference is sponsored by the Commonwealth
of Virginia and Virginia Tech's Center for Organizational and
Technological Advancement (COTA), an outreach program established
to foster economic development and continuing education initiatives
with a special emphasis on connecting university research to the
needs of Virginia's industrial, commercial, governmental, and
For information, contact E. Thomas Garman, professor and COTA Fellow,
at 540-231-6677; fax 540-231-3250; or e-mail email@example.com.
The Personal Finance Employee Education Web site, located at www.chre.vt.edu/~/pfee,
contains pertinent research papers and dozens of quotes from experts
nationwide. The full "Personal Finance Employee Education:
Best Practices" conference program, information on presentations,
and registration materials are also available on the PFEE Web