Fringe Benefits

Benefits on the Rise: Financial Wellness Programs

Ella Baker
Benefits on the Rise: Financial Wellness Programs
Reading time 5 Mins
Published on Sep 5

Financial stress can be a huge drain on workplace productivity. When employees are distracted by their money woes, their attention isn’t focused on their workplace duties. In addition, financial stress can lead to health problems that keep your employees away from the office. Providing a robust financial wellness program for your employees demonstrates your long-term commitment to your employees and ensures that you have a happier, more secure, and more productive workforce.

Employees want guidance

In the 2018 PWC Employee Financial Wellness Survey 54 percent of American employees reported being stressed about their finances. Employees see financial wellness as freedom from financial stress, less worry about unexpected expenses, and freedom from debt. As their employer, you can help provide that peace of mind.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that the same PwC survey found that 25 percent of employees said the most desired benefit they don’t already have is a financial wellness program with unbiased counselors.

Defining your program

Programs that aren’t of interest to or that don’t meet the needs of your employees are a waste of time and resources. Conduct a survey of your employees to learn more about the type of financial advice that would be most beneficial to them.

Financial wellness can include:

  • Better 401(k) education on savings rates and asset selection.
  • Dissuading participants from taking loans or withdrawals from their retirement funds.
  • Eliminating and offering alternatives to payday borrowing.
  • Teaching basic budgeting.
  • Advising new managers on building wealth.
  • Helping near-term retirees preserve their retirement savings.

Targeted advice

Target offerings to particular groups of employees — baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials, and women.

Financial health and wellbeing can vary widely from generation to generation. A significant number of millennials report that they feel unprepared to manage their finances and need help with topics across the financial wellness spectrum, including retirement, general savings help, debt management, saving for major expenses, and budgeting. Meanwhile, baby boomers and Gen Xers are more likely to report that they are doing financially well and seek help additional information on saving and budgeting for retirement.

There’s also a huge gender disparity regarding financial wellness, which can be attributed to the different workplace paths followed by men and women. For example, women are more likely than men to leave the paid workforce for caregiving, which then leads to fewer years to contribute to retirement savings plans and earn Social Security benefits. Employers need to make a concerted effort to understand the unique challenges faced by those of diverse backgrounds.

Talk to your providers

The financial wellness industry is evolving quickly. Meet with and talk to your potential financial wellness program advisors about programs they offer.

Make sure that your advisors understand the unique needs of your workforce. Ask them how they tailor their financial advice programs to the individual needs of your employees. Many financial wellness programs fail because they focus on education and literacy, while employees will engage with a program when it feels like it’s about them and their situation specifically.

For example, a program that includes goal setting and debt management can help employees appreciate the importance of balancing short-term needs against long-term goals. The focus should be on building skills—employees need to learn the right thing to do and how to get it done for long-lasting behavioral change.

Determine goals

Incorporating financial wellness into benefits offerings is an important investment, so be sure it fits with your employees’ needs as well as your organization’s mission, business strategy and culture. Here are some questions to consider when establishing your program:

  • Ask why you want to include financial wellness among your benefits offerings. If it’s to boost retention or productivity, plan to measure changes in these metrics among program participants.
  • Find out what your employees need from a financial wellness program. Let them help you identify and prioritize the sources of their money stress. Do they have trouble managing emergencies? Are they struggling with high-cost credit? Do they need help achieving financial security?
  • Match available offerings to your strategy, goals and budget. When using third-party service providers, determine what you can spend to achieve your goals and find partners willing to work with you to customize their offerings to your company’s needs and budget.

Among other significant benefits, a quality workplace financial wellness program can help your company achieve greater employee satisfaction, lower stress levels, decrease employee turnover, potentially lower healthcare costs, and improve employee productivity.

Financial wellness and Sheakley

Implementing a financial wellness program doesn’t need to be disruptive to existing benefits and compensation programs; it should complement them. Developing strong policies that support employees’ financial goals may seem overwhelming for many small and mid-size business owners. Sheakley’s HR Management division can help you create policies for your employees that ensure the success of your financial wellness program.

Schedule your free consultation with a Sheakley HR professional today. Stay up-to-date on all things Sheakley by subscribing to our blog and following us on social media. Join in the discussion by commenting below.

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