When times get tough financially, it’s hard for anyone to focus on work. With everything going on with the pandemic, employers are understanding the financial hardships employees face. This is why financial wellness programs are such a great employee perk and are becoming a well-known and popular benefit.
In this article, we’ll discuss not only what financial wellness is, but how it affects your employees as well. You’ll then learn how you too can implement a financial wellness program at your own business. So continue reading to learn all about the benefits and inner workings of financial wellness programs.
What is Financial Wellness?
First of all, let’s start out by learning what the term “financial wellness” means. Financial wellness refers to an individual’s overall financial situation, including income, debts, savings, etc. If there’s little to no worry regarding finances and the individual has a full financial plan laid out, their financial wellness is well on its way.
On the other hand, are the individuals that are financially unwell. This is where many people lie within the spectrum, especially with the massive unemployment that came with COVID-19 this year. Many have had to restructure their financial plans, including their retirement. These individuals are more likely to live paycheck to paycheck and have little wiggle room for unplanned spending.
While merit and cost of living raises are great and probably an employee’s preference, times are hard for everyone right now. This includes businesses. So, how do you help employees feel more financially secure, educated, and confident while also looking out for your own financial well-being? That’s where employee financial wellness programs come in.
What is a Financial Wellness Program?
Financial wellness programs educate employees on their finances. They teach employees the best ways to handle things like student loans or mortgages, and the best ways to plan for their specific financial situation. This can include things like workshops with financial advisors or counseling on repaying debts. The goal is to help employees overcome and plan around their financial stressors and better plan for their futures.
Financial wellness used to focus on retirement and retirement plans. As we now know, the gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing each year. So understandably, programs have changed to accommodate things like student loans and other debts. Financial wellness programs now focus on offering training, support, or both to employees rather than just focusing on how to save for retirement.
Depending on the type of program you go with, there may also be coaching or counseling available. Topics covered in financial wellness programs can include things like:
- Building credit
- Reducing debt
- Setting financial goals
- Creating savings accounts
- Student loan management
- Assessing spending behaviors
It’s important to note that these programs are different than consulting with a CPA or accountant. Understand the differences so you know you and your employees are going to the right person for any questions. No matter what method you use for your program, you’re bound to see the benefits of financially well employees. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at how finances can impact employees.
How Finances Impact Employees
Understandably, worrying about finances is very distracting. If you have to worry about paying bills and living paycheck to paycheck, you have plenty of other things on your mind, even at work. So, financial wellness can certainly influence your employees.
However, there are things you can do to help your employee’s financial wellness like instituting a wellness program. While there are a variety of program structures you can choose from, any of them can help employees, even if just a little bit. Before we get into how you can implement your own financial wellness program, we’ll first look at the benefits of these programs.
The Benefits of Financial Wellness Programs in The Workplace
As we just learned, financial struggles are distracting and stressful, to say the least. This is why financial wellness programs can be so beneficial for employers. When employees’ financial wellness is on track, they have more energy to put into their day-to-day work. Stress can also take a physical toll on employee’s health, which is less than ideal for you.
If you’re worried about being able to pay for your housing or student loan, it’s understandable that you’d be distracted. And there are more people worrying than not. In fact, 72% of employees admit to worrying about finances while at work. This takes a toll on employee’s focus and productivity.
Clearly, a financial wellness program is a great solution in this instance. With the stress of finances eased, that 72% becomes much more productive. Not only this, but they’ll also be happier overall. As we always say, happy employees make the best employees. They’re the best resource for your business.
As we’ve mentioned, stress can have a terrible physical toll. Financial stress is no different and is arguably the worst kind of stress, especially if you have a family or others relying on you. Chronic stress can lead to mild issues like trouble sleeping, all the way to serious heart issues. All of this can lead to further issues with absenteeism if the employee has to take sick time to recover.
While you never know what other health or stress issues an employee might be dealing with, financial wellness programs are certainly a great start. Once chronic stress is alleviated, employees can focus on what matters and improving their financial standing.
Employees appreciate it when employers truly care about them. It increases employee satisfaction and in turn, increases employee loyalty. This is great for your business overall. First of all, your employees are happy and productive while at work. The higher employee satisfaction is, the more likely it is that employees will stay at your company for a long time. On top of this, you have a new perk when recruiting new talent.
How to Implement Your Own Program
While starting your own financial wellness program may seem daunting, it’s easier than it seems. There are even platforms you can use that will help employees track and plan their finances.
For starters, take a look at your employees and try to find a commonality. Age is a good demographic to think about when looking at your options. For example, if the majority of employees are close to retirement, it’s likely that’s what their priority and focus will be in terms of finances. If you’re a small tech start up with a team of newly-graduated employees, they’re more likely to look for student loan management.
After taking these things into consideration, start looking at your program options. Depending on how in-depth and hands-on you want to be, there are a few approaches you can take. Let’s start by taking a look at outsourcing.
Like many aspects of your business, you can choose to go with a third-party for your financial wellness program. Depending on the type you pick, advising and support might also be included in the program. If you don’t have a lot of time to invest in your program, this is probably the best option.
Outsourcing allows for a fully-formed wellness program, some complete with apps and support available. Here are three of the top financial wellness programs as of April of this year, according to Integrity Data.
- GreenPath Financial Wellness: GreenPath offers financial counseling that can help employees with debt repayment planning and management, budgeting, and developing a financial plan. This program does have an online platform that helps employers track employee engagement. By the looks of their website, this program is easy to implement and training is provided.
- Enrich Financial Wellness: Enrich is another great option for employee financial wellness programs. This platform helps employees with personal finances and retirement planning. This program offers customization with optional features available – great if you’re not quite sure what employees will like.
- Integrity Data Financial Wellness: Integrity Data works with different partners to provide additional tools to employees. While all of these programs revolve around education, this option also has resources available for employees. This program, like the others, also has a platform available for financial tracking.
If it doesn’t sound like a third-party option is right for you, you can choose to take on a more hands-on approach.
Teamwork and Apps
Depending on the company culture you’ve created and the industry you’re in, you could take a more hands-on approach to financial wellness programs. This can be one of the most cost-effective solutions, although it may be the most time-consuming.
With the use of financial tracking apps, you could create your own program. You can easily find tips for setting financial goals or debt consolidation. f you don’t have the extra time, allocate the tasks of the program to an employee. If no employees volunteer to manage the program, look at who can handle this workload within your finance or accounting department.
While financial programs aren’t a magic fix-all for financial troubles, they’re the best long-term solution. They help educate employees on the best ways to handle their financial situations and save for their inevitable retirement. Yes, ideally we could all have more money, and the top 1% wouldn’t have the most money. But, with that unlikely in our lifetimes, at least financial wellness programs are an option to relieve financial stressors.