Healthcare staffers focus on better benefits for women
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Healthcare staffers focus on better benefits for women

March 21, 2015

Source: Healthcare Finance

In an industry three-quarters female – though still outnumbered by men in the C-suite – healthcare providers are looking to women’s retirement needs as both a recruitment and retention tool.

Retirement savings and planning is second only to healthcare benefits in recruiting highly-skilled employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. One in five organizations reported leveraging their benefits program to retain employees.

However, several studies claim women are too busy putting the financial needs of others ahead of themselves to do more than sock money away as a way of planning for retirement. They are also supposedly more averse to investment risk than men, less engaged in investment decision-making and trade less often.

A 2013 Merrill Lynch study debunked these money differences, saying women and men invest similarly when they have the same financial knowledge.

Getting women to the table to gain this knowledge is the challenge.

A Fidelity Investments survey revealed 77 percent of women who work in healthcare are comfortable talking to a doctor, while only 47 percent feel comfortable talking to a financial advisor, according to Alexandra Taussig, senior vice president marketing and business strategy.

“We were shocked,” Taussig said.

The survey results point to a confidence mismatch between the sexes, she said.

“(Women think) ‘I don’t have the experience and I haven’t done the research,’” Taussig said. “In the broader psyche, women are focusing on what they don’t know; men are focusing on what they do know.”

To reach women, the financial services firm partnered with hospitals to talk to nursing staff. The biggest challenge was finding a time and place to meet employees who are on the job at all hours. Financial counselors took to roaming hospital hallways and break rooms.

What has worked even better has been a “girl’s night out.”

In 2010, BayCare in Florida held three of these sessions between September and December. The event of social hour, light dinner and speaker was an immediate hit, according to Barbara Wilson, BayCare’s retirement manager.

Instead of the 65 attendees expected, 200 showed up, she said. Women of all ages attended.

“Employees came from hospitals 45 minutes away,” Wilson said. “We thought we would mostly get women from our main office. The reality was, they were coming from everywhere.”

BayCare has a retirement plan that matches the first 6 percent participants put into it, said Wilson. The provider cannot offer advice, but it did provide the tools for guidance.

“They didn’t know how to ask the questions,” Wilson said. “I think that was the crux of the whole thing. We just kind of put it in front of them: here’s an opportunity. They took advantage of it.”

The sessions addressed topics including money within a marriage, the basics of stocks and bonds and retirement planning.

BayCare expects to hold another workshop this year.

Women do worry about money and retirement, Taussig said. Most nurses are saving the 10 to 15 percent of salary Fidelity recommends. Those aged  20 to 29 years old are saving a bit less, she said.

“Women want something that’s relatively easy. They’re looking for something that – they’re so busy – they want something that’s turn-key to help them feel on track,” Wilson said.

“We took the paralyzation away. There’s nothing like being validated to get people to take action.

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