In addition to a matching feature, workers AARP surveyed indicated strong preferences for programs that would protect their privacy, give them complete control over access to their funds and generally limit complicating red tape that would make the programs less functional.

"The idea here behind an employer-based emergency savings program is let the employee define the emergency," Harvey said. "Putting up rules and barriers, eligibility criteria, is just going to frustrate people and they won't use the money when it's needed at that moment."

Workplace emergency savings plans should give more Americans access to safe and affordable financial products that could be maximized through the use of automatic transfers like those used in workplace defined contribution plans, Harvey added.

Some employers have offered a feature that allows workers to split their paychecks through direct deposit into separate accounts, one being set aside for emergency savings. But the early analysis of those programs, which tend to rely on the employee proactively opting to set up and contribute to the emergency account via direct deposit rather than use auto-enrollment, has found the results to be underwhelming, according to the report.

Increasing Americans' emergency savings also have a direct correlation to their overall financial confidence, Harvey reported.  In fact, Americans with rainy day funds are more than twice as likely than those without a fund to feel confident about their long-term financial prospects than those who do not, the group found.

As employers increasingly come to view emergency savings as a crucial element of their employees' financial well-being, more have been exploring a separate benefit to help encourage workers to put away money for some unforeseen contingency, Harvey said.

Emergency savings programs could become a key component of employers' expanding financial wellness benefits packages, but many are still grappling with the best way to drive engagement.

"We know that information for employees on a website is not going to cut it," Harvey said. "Education alone just doesn't work, and so employers over the years have gotten really savvy and have taken up the behavioral finance tools and concepts to make participation the default."

First « 1 2 » Next