Financial stress comes at a high cost. Nearly half of all employees report they are stressed dealing with their financial situation,1 which could have far-reaching effects. When it’s consistent, financial stress can help raise blood sugar levels, elevate blood pressure and take a toll on a person’s overall health and well-being.2
Not to mention, when an individual experiences financial stress, their employers also pay a price. According to a recent study, employees who are stressed about their finances and struggling with their overall well-being can be less productive and have a 41 percent higher health care cost than employees whose well-being is thriving.3
Fortunately, organizations are in a position to help. Whether your company already has a well-being program in place to help employees improve their finances or not, there are steps you can take help put your employees on the path to a healthy, secure and stress-free future.
The ongoing impact of financial stress.
All stress can be harmful to health, but money-related stress can be especially damaging. Because those with financial stress tend to worry about money day after day and week after week, their body is under prolonged chronic stress. This puts them in a constant state of anxiety, which may help cause serious health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes, stomach ulcers, cardiac problems and more.2
The harmful effects of financial stress don’t stop there, either. When people are financially stressed, they will often self-medicate. They may seek comfort through emotional eating, excessive drinking, smoking tobacco or other unhealthy habits that could help perpetuate their problems and further harm their well-being.
Provide the path to better well-being.
Financial wellness matters. To help keep your employees healthy and performing at their best, you need to include financial services as a part of your well-being program. By doing so, you can also help boost employee satisfaction.
While implementing a financial wellness program can come with challenges, it can certainly be achieved. To help you get started, I’ve listed the top five principles that guided us as we designed our financial wellness plan here at WebMD.
1. Consider every employee’s needs.
Create a financial wellness plan that will be beneficial to your entire workforce. Your organization may have employees of all ages, backgrounds and financial levels. But, whether they’re saving for their first home or preparing for their ideal retirement, it’s important that you offer tools and services that will help each and every employee achieve their personal financial and lifestyle goals.
2. Utilize the resources you have.
Many organizations already have tools and services in place that can help employees improve their financial situation. From employee assistance programs (EAP) to dental, disability, life insurance and more—there are plenty of workplace services available that can help your employees save money, reduce their monthly costs and prevent unnecessary financial stress.
3. Expand your offerings.
Financial wellness can’t be achieved with a single-product solution. To truly make a difference in your employee’s financial health, you have to do more than simply offer a budgeting tool, financial advising or short-term payday loans. You need to provide them with access to all of those things, plus financial literacy training, credit score monitoring, student loan programs, identity theft prevention classes and more.
4. Clearly communicate benefits.
To drive participation in your financial wellness program, you need to create a strong engagement strategy. At WebMD Health Services, we promote our financial wellness partner, EnrichTM from iGrad, through a variety of channels. We hang posters around the office to create awareness, send emails to initiate engagement and even send postcards to communicate our program benefits to employees when they’re at home.
5. Pay attention to the numbers.
Surprisingly, a whopping 70 percent of employers with financial wellness programs don’t have formal measurements to assess their value.4 But, by tracking the success of your program, you can take advantage of a valuable opportunity. You will be able to asses the significance of your program, identify where improvements can be made, harness data to offer personalized options and so much more.
A holistic approach to well-being.
Well-being is about so much more than eating healthy and getting regular exercise. It’s about waking up with a positive attitude, going to sleep knowing you’re financially secure and doing everything you can to keep stress at a minimum.
By incorporating comprehensive financial services into your workplace well-being program, you can improve organizational productivity, boost your profit margins and help your employees stop stressing about their finances so they can get back to what matters most — taking care of their health.