In Phase 1 of our research on EFWPs, made possible with the generous support of the Ford Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co., we surveyed employers and LMI employees, conducted interviews with employers, and completed intensive case studies with employers and their EFWP providers to gain insight into their perspectives on, and experiences with, EFWPs.

Employers in our study had varying perceptions of the value of their EFWPs. Those that offered in-person financial coaching; loans or grants for emergencies; and third-party, payroll-linked, small-dollar installment loans viewed their programs as successful in improving the financial well-being of their employees. They believed that their LMI employees valued these programs. However, employers that offered financial seminars reported that attendance by LMI employees was extremely low. Participation in a savings promotion program offered by another employer was also somewhat disappointing. These findings suggest that employers that offer services that provide LMI employees with intensive, individualized support and immediate access to financial help during a crisis may be getting the most value for their EFWP investments.

Most lower-income employees we surveyed either said their employer did not offer benefits like financial coaching or they were unsure if such benefits were available. Among those who were aware of these benefits, utilization rates ranged from 15 to 33%, though rates were higher among employees who said they had problems covering their expenses.

In partnership with Prosperity Now, the WFSI produced a series of tools for employers to better understand EFWPs and gain insight into selecting appropriate EFWPs for their workforce.