by Andy Meyer, CEO of Financial Fitness Group
If you’re the owner of a company or working in human resources, you’ve likely got some form of health and wellness program installed in the workplace. Not only are these programs a hallmark of the current-day office, but they’re also becoming a valuable and expected benefit – and for good reason. With healthy employees producing more valuable work, taking fewer sick days, and costing less to corporate health care plans, having a health and wellness program in the office is a win-win situation all around. But while the word “health” may initially make you think of one’s physical and mental well-being, some programs are going beyond the traditional initiatives and expanding to financial wellness as well. You might not consider finances as being something that has a huge impact on an employee’s health, but more than 53% of financially stressed employees spend hours on the clock dealing with their financial issues. Those lost hours can really add up.
Still unsure about adding financial wellness and money-smart incentives to your company’s health program? Let’s expand a bit more on the subject:
Employee Interest Is High – but You Might Not Know It.
Conduct an informal poll in the office about health concerns, people will mention wanting to get in shape, eat better, quit smoking, and so on. Not as many will bring up the topic of financial health, and yet there’s a desire for improvement under the surface. A piece at BenefitsPRO refers to an Aon Hewitt study on wellness that “shows that employees are keenly interested in financial wellness. More employers are concerned about whether their workers are saving enough, and not just for retirement. The report indicates that more than 90 percent of 250 large employers said they want to introduce or expand their financial wellness programs in 2015.”
It’s easy to understand why company owners or HR might be unaware of this high level of interest from employees. Given that there can still be quite a bit of shame surrounding financial stress, it can be tough to gauge just how well a financial program would go over. Some individuals might not feel comfortable divulging their spending habits, while others are convinced that living paycheck to paycheck is completely adequate. Many might not be aware that there’s even a problem, particularly if they simply haven’t put any thought into retirement savings or the future. This is why bringing financial wellness and education into the workplace is important – because sometimes you need to raise the issue to make others aware of it.
For those who are all too aware of their money problems, a financial wellness program could be where they receive the training and resources they need to help them deal with their stress. According to the BenefitsPRO article, “Nearly 25 percent of employees say their finances have been a distraction at work, according to accounting firm PwC’s 2014 study of financial wellness programs. And Americans have named money as their top source of stress every year since 2007.” Financial stress causes a drop in productivity to the tune of $7,000 per employee per year, with affected people costing their employers between $450 and $2,100 annually.
In short, many employees need help with their finances – they just don’t know where to look.
Implementing a Financial Wellness Program.
As mentioned above, in some ways a financial wellness program can be a hard sell for employees. Not everyone takes well to the concept of having a financial coach; money is a sensitive topic for many, particularly if there’s already a significant amount of stress or denial. Another barrier to get through is the fact that simply putting together a series of training programs doesn’t always work. An article from U.S. News points to how many financial wellness programs model themselves off of the typical corporate health programs, and they too were not successful when they simply “consisted only of education.” Instead, the key is to get employees involved by bringing the issue home.
The article explains the need to appeal to an individual’s personal relevancy. For instance, a child going to college, a spouse’s lost job, or the decision to purchase a home are all major milestones that spur an interest for many to work toward their financial goals. Although an employee may not necessarily need a financial coach in the moment, the important thing is to make employees aware that the resources are there for them when the ‘triggering event’ happens.
A year-round option is to bring in a third-party company that offers a financial wellness training solution. Rather than simply being another droning lecture or something to tune out, software-based tutorials rely on participation and retention of knowledge to help employees figure out what to do in situations like buying a car, improving their credit, and so on. They’re a good way to impart information to your staff in a way that’s more fun than brochures and handouts – and it’s knowledge they can keep top-of-mind for years to come.
Make Financial Wellness a Priority.
Now that the definition of “health and wellness” is expanding to bank accounts, savings, and investments, it’s time for workplaces to step up and include a financial component to their corporate programs. Given the high cost of financially stressed employees, companies worldwide would be wise to recognize the hidden issue of personal money problems, and to provide resources and solutions to help. When the financial health of employees translates to the health of the business, there’s definitely room for financial education among the typical wellness programs.
Does your workplace’s health and wellness program include a financial component? Have you used it yet? Tell us about it in the comments.
Andy Meyer, CEO of Financial Fitness Group is an accomplished leader with more than 20 years of senior management experience growing software and technology based companies. Companies have included Websense, Epicor, Cisco and multiple mobile start-ups. He has extensive experience in general management, marketing, sales, business development and public relations. His efforts have directly led to exits including IPOs and raised growth capital for multiple companies.