If your well-being program doesn’t include financial wellness, now is the time to consider adding it. Even before the pandemic, Americans struggled to manage day-to-day finances, pay off debt, and save for the future. This translates to financial stress—which impacts employees’ health and how they perform on the job. In the last of our blog series on this topic, we share ways to integrate financial wellness into your corporate well-being program.
How to create a financial wellness program at your organization.
There are lots of ways to go about creating a financial wellness program for your employees. But where do you begin? Here are some things to consider before adding financial wellness benefits:
What do employees want and need?
Your workforce includes people from many different backgrounds, life stages and financial needs. For example, some people may prioritize paying off student loans or saving for their first home, whereas others want to budget for a growing family, or plan for retirement. It’s important to consider all the perspectives of your population before designing your financial wellness programs. That way, you can build a comprehensive solution that includes tools and resources that everyone can benefit from.
What resources do you already have?
If you have a corporate well-being program, chances are it features some aspects of financial wellness. For example, our WebMD participants have access to financial wellness resources through our partner, iGrad Enrich. Your Employee Assistance Program also may include financial wellness tools and education. Your 401(k) administrator will also have resources you can tap into.
What features would you like to add?
Once you determine what your employees need and what you already have, fill in the gaps by partnering with an external financial wellness provider or using widely available online resources. Below we list some of the more common aspects of a financial wellness program.
How will you market financial wellness services to your employees?
It’s important to tie financial wellness into your well-being messaging. To help ensure that employees take advantage of any new offerings, make sure to have a regular cadence of communication throughout the year. Consider holding special events to tie into Financial Literacy Month or a themed event like sticking to a budget during the holidays.
What are examples of financial wellness programs?
Helping employees with current financial concerns and developing financial literacy can take many forms. Here is a list of some of the more popular offerings to get you started:
Teaching financial fundamentals can help alleviate some stress and empower your employees to set some financial goals for themselves. For example, how to set up and stick to a budget, how to create a long-term savings plan, concepts like interest rates and the time value of money—these are all valuable topics that a financial wellness program teaches. You can even bring in an expert to deliver talks during lunch & learns or webinars.
For those who are close to retirement, you should consider offering classes on retirement financial planning, retiree healthcare, and how to navigate retirement distributions when the time comes. For those planning for retirement, focus on spreading awareness about your 401(k) and any employer match programs you offer. People may be interested in learning more about setting up health savings accounts that set aside money for retiree healthcare, creating a retirement plan, and learning how much they should try to save before retiring. Consider inviting a professional from your 401(k) program to host a seminar to share information.
This could include assistance with consolidating debt, establishing a plan to pay it down, and education on interest rates and budgeting to help employees avoid future debt. It also helps employees cope with the stigma and stress of being in debt. This type of support is best done one-on-one with a financial counselor.
Financial counseling and coaching.
Financial counseling sessions may be more appropriate for employees who are experiencing an immediate financial crisis. Financial coaching helps employees set goals for the future and improve their current financial situation.1 Sessions can be in-person, over the phone, or via video.
Support for savings.
Aside from 401(k) plan retirement saving, employers can sponsor savings or investment plans and have contributions taken directly from paychecks. Not only does this make it convenient to participate, it also gives employees the peace of mind that they’re placing their money with a reputable institution.
Short-term loans and accrued wage advances.
These help employees access credit or cash in an emergency—whether through a low-interest short-term loan or an advance on their pay. Both can then be repaid through payroll deductions spaced out over time.
Student loan debt assistance.
Paying back student loans can be frustrating. There is a lot of unfamiliar terminology, and when you have a problem, it’s hard to know whom to contact—the lender, the loan servicer, or the guarantor? So, simply providing organizational tools that pull in and consolidate all student loan data in one place can be a huge relief for your employees. You may also want to make loan consolidation services available so employees can look into lowering their monthly payments.
Incentivize financial wellness.
Once you begin offering some aspects of a financial wellness program, consider adding them to your incentives strategy. For example, many of our clients reward their employees for attending a financial wellness lunch & learn, or reading educational resources from their financial wellness partner. Incentivizing your new offerings will encourage employees to actually use and reap the benefits of them.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series on financial wellness. To sum up, financial stress can negatively affect employees’ mental and physical health and reduce their productivity and engagement—both of which have a real impact on the bottom line. In addition, employees are increasingly asking for financial wellness support from their employers as part of their benefits package. So whether you partner with a vendor or create a financial wellness program using internal resources, know that doing so will result in an employee population that is more loyal, engaged, happier, and healthier.