How plan sponsors can better support Hispanic employees—when they need it most
From wage and job losses to health concerns, few have escaped the challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis. However, the pandemic has had an outsized effect on the finances of Spanish-speaking Americans. A recent survey revealed that Hispanics in the U.S. whose primary language is Spanish were two to three times more likely to have pandemic-related financial problems.1 Even before the COVID-19 crisis, 64% of Hispanics rated their financial situation as fair or poor, according to Pew Research.2
Today, empowering the financial wellness of Spanish-speaking employees is more important than ever. By 2025, Hispanics will account for one out of every two people entering the workforce.3 Employers who connect with this growing talent pool via bilingual retirement and employee benefits solutions stand to improve their competitiveness—and ensure that all of their employees have access to a secure financial future.
Pandemic problems and financial disparities
The pandemic hit the Hispanic community in the U.S. especially hard. A Consolidated Credit survey shows that 90% of Spanish-speaking Hispanics in the U.S. suffered COVID-related income loss.4 National employment data painted a similar picture, with the unemployment rate for Hispanics peaking at 18.5% in April 2020.5 Behind these economic statistics is a lot of real-life stress. More than half of the respondents to the Pew survey reported that they worry daily about paying bills, carrying too much debtor their ability to afford healthcare.6
At the same time, researchers noted that a pre-existing lack of financial literacy among Hispanic individuals likely exacerbated an already challenging situation. Less than one in three Hispanics are "highly financial literate," compared to 43% and 38% of white and Asian Americans, respectively.7 This knowledge gap becomes especially concerning when employees and families find themselves in financial straits. Because Spanish-speaking Hispanic workers may not have access to — or be aware of — financial tools and resources that can provide a safety net, they may be more likely to fall victim to predatory lenders, which provide loans with unreasonable terms and exceptionally high-interest rates. That's true during emergencies and in everyday life. For instance, only 16% of Hispanic Americans have a retirement plan, compared to 31% of non-Hispanic individuals.8
The ability to leverage saving and planning benefits is where the language barrier can create an impediment to access. The research reveals that the disparity in retirement planning is not due to a lack of interest in financial services, but rather a shortage of relevant financial communications about retirement plan benefits. Cultural differences also come into play. For instance, Hispanic employees may not be as familiar with the concept of matching contributions and have more distrust of employer programs and financial institutions.9 With less access to financial tools and a difference in cultural context, there is a resource and equity gap that needs to be filled.
Bilingual and culturally relevant
Employers have an opportunity—and given the growing Hispanic workforce, a responsibility—to provide more inclusive financial wellness benefits and support. Voya can help. We recently launched an end-to-end Spanish language experience for retirement plan participants. The solution serves Spanish-speaking employees via:
- Onsite and online education. Voya's experienced education specialists host meetings – in Spanish - to communicate the benefits of participating in the workplace retirement plan.
- Dedicated phone support. Voya's Retirement Readiness Service Center includes bilingual representatives and a voice response system to support Spanish speakers. It's also available for all other languages.
- Translated digital experiences. Plan participants can translate many of Voya's online content and tools to Spanish with the click of a button, including the myOrangeMoney online, interactive educational experience as well as Financial Wellness.
Speaking the language is essential, but so is speaking the culture. At Voya, we aim to support Spanish-speaking plan participants in understanding the relevance of retirement benefits and the role employers can play in improving their financial wellness. Having insights into concerns specific to the Hispanic community and addressing them accordingly is one of the best ways to boost retirement plan engagement.
“As the leader of the Latinx ERG, I am excited to see how Voya is expanding its approach to reach historically underserved communities. Our new offerings are going to help break down cultural barriers and misperceptions, providing customers with the tools and resources to better understand and manage their finances.“
Lorena Quinones, manager, Producer Services, and chair, Latinx Employee Resource Group (ERG)
Voya prioritizes culturally relevant communication in multiple ways. For example, plan participants can visit Voya's digital education website to learn about a host of personal finance topics from Voya financial educators, many of whom speak Spanish and are Hispanic. The webinars address everything from emergency savings to retirement planning.
All employees should have the chance to improve their financial wellness and secure their retirement. With Voya's Spanish language retirement plan resources and culturally aware representatives, plan sponsors can support their Spanish-speaking Hispanic employees as they forge a path to a brighter financial future.
Interested in learning more about how you can better serve your Spanish-speaking employees? Reach out to your Voya Relationship Manager to learn more about our end-toend Spanish-language experience.