Financial Wellness in the Workplace – an opportunity

Financial Wellness

As much as you may hate to admit it, life revolves around money. As long as you manage to make more than you spend, you likely consider that you’re doing pretty well in the financial wellness department. However, if you find that you have difficulty managing your budget, the stress of paying bills can be quite detrimental to your overall well-being. Financial difficulties often seep into other areas of your life, such as your mental, emotional and even physical health.

With a shift towards managing the entire well-being, modern wellness programs are beginning to address these growing concerns. Many programs are now offering ways to deal with financial challenges, including offering guidance on saving for retirement, paying off student loans and managing a day-to-day budget. In fact, the Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-Being Survey by the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments states that 84 percent of the 141 companies surveyed offer financial wellness programs while only 76 percent did so last year.

Other studies have found that financial stress is a burden that many workers carry. The 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey by PricewaterhouseCooper‘s compiled results from 1,600 full-time workers and found that 52 percent are stressed about their financial situation. The number increases to 64 percent with millennials, who often are dragged down by student loans and a difficult job market.

The number one money-related concern is not having enough cash in savings for unexpected expenses, which is a worry for 55 percent of workers. Not being able to retire when wanted  and not being able to meet monthly expenses are also common issues at 37 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

The same study also found that 46 percent of workers spend at least three hours each week dealing with or thinking about finances, which cuts into productivity at work. Plus, workers who are worried about money are also more likely to miss work due to stress-related health problems.

Luckily, employers can help get things back on track by offering financial guidance and lessening the worry of making ends meet.

Many employees simply don’t know how to manage their finances so offering financial education to make them aware of the best practices is a great way to start. Start with the basics, like creating and following a budget, then work up to more advanced advice, like diversifying a 401(k). Help employees understand how much they’ll need to save to retire and make a plan to help them reach this goal. Sometimes all it takes is a slight increase in 401(k) contributions to make a big difference in retirement but without education, many people are unaware.

If you’re ready to start a financial wellness plan in your company, here are a few things to consider:

  • Encourage Participation – Starting a plan is the first hurdle, getting employees to take advantage of the plan is the second. A Bank of America survey found that nearly one-third of employees who work for large companies were unsure if their workplace offered financial wellness plans. If no one knows the help is out there, then it’s obviously not going to do any good. To help spread the word, create an incentive, such as small monetary reward, that may convince hesitant workers to give it a try.
  • Decide What Works Best – You can create a financial wellness program a variety of ways. One-on-one personalized attention may attract the interest of more employees, but it will also be more costly to the company. Group sessions and online programs may save you money but may not be as attractive to employees and may not solve the underlying issue. You’ll have to decide what works best for you and your employees.
  • Offer Financial Rewards – Paid vacation time is always a perk but a recent survey by Paychex found that the majority of people would actually prefer to receive regular bonuses to help relieve some of the financial burden. Consider this when choosing the type of reward you’re going to offer to your employees as part of the wellness program!

Follow these guidelines and you’ll soon see for yourself how financial wellness can be beneficial to both the employee and the company.