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Microsoft Corp.’s financial wellness program covers a lot of ground for employees. At the center of Microsoft’s program is a financial planning tool, myFiTage, which the Redmond, Washington-based technology company began offering in 2013 as a voluntary benefit to its U.S. employees.
The tool, developed by Towers Watson & Co., integrates all of Microsoft’s financial benefits, as well as an employee’s income, savings and external accounts, to determine how long the user will be able to afford to live without a steady paycheck.
“It allows you to model your behavior and see how those model changes impact your age that you can retire, and help you in an easy, one-click action put some of those changes into effect,” said Sonja Kellen, Microsoft’s director of global retirement.
After offering employees a small financial incentive to use the tool, Microsoft saw that 47% of its U.S. employees participated. Of those users, 24% increased their 401(k) savings by an average of 2%.
Microsoft also started a college coach program in January to help parents with teenage children plan for college.
“It helps with not only saving for college and paying for college, and how education loans work, repayment strategies and financial aid, but it also helps you navigate the whole application process and admission process,” Ms. Kellen said.
Finally, Microsoft launched its total rewards portal last fall, which offers personalized messages based on an employee’s savings. For example, if an employee is not saving up to the level Microsoft matches in its 401(k), the portal will send a personal message about the importance of financial planning.
All of Microsoft’s financial wellness benefits are provided to employees at no cost.
“Helping people think about the best strategies for saving and investing starting from day one is going to set them up for success, so that at the end of their career, they’re not just starting to think about it,” Ms. Kellen said. “It’s really hard to get on track with your finances and your savings, if you don’t start when you’re young.”
But Microsoft is not going to hold each employee’s hand.
“We definitely believe in personal accountability, and we feel our role is more about advancing that culture of (financial) wellness and giving people the right tools and resources, so they can take control of their own finances and do what’s right for them,” Ms. Kellen said.
Voluntary financial benefits, including financial planning at all career stages, have become a popular way to boost employee productivity, satisfaction and retention while reducing their stress and health care costs.