Wellness programs are becoming a part of many organizations’ cultures. Their presence in the workplace sends a signal that being healthy and staying fit have value and importance. Companies are investing in wellness committees and wellness advocates to encourage employee participation to boost initial engagement and establish long-term effectiveness.
But are today’s wellness programs designed to include everything an employee needs to really be healthy? Or are they missing the boat if only offering initiatives such as smoking cessation programs, weight loss contests and Fitbit tracker challenges? When really the number one stressor reported by most employees is financial issues.
Surveys, such as Stress in America conducted by the American Psychological Association in August of 2015, show that employees cite money as their top concern and cause for stress at 67%, work at 65%, family responsibilities at 54% and health concerns at 51%. That’s why wellness programs also need to include components that inspire and educate the workforce on getting in better financial health.
To help organizations think about financial education, Benefits magazine provides several tips in the article “Debunking 3 Myths About Financial Education in the Workplace.” Here are their suggestions for moving ahead with creating financial wellbeing within a company.
Financial wellness initiatives need to start at the beginning with employees. Help them determine what they need to live on day-to-day so they can then start planning for tomorrow. Financial wellness means delivering financial information to employees in meaningful ways and through meaningful communication channels at all stages of their lives.
Tip 1 Checklist:
- Survey the workforce annually to see what topics interest them and what they find valuable.
- Build a financial education strategy into a company’s wellness program. A wellness subcommittee can be formed to develop, implement and measure financial education efforts throughout the year.
- Remember different generations of employees may need information delivered differently – consider a variety of communication methods.
Remember everyone can benefit from financial education. The concept of budgeting and debt elimination can have value to all levels of employees. Don’t assume that middle management and above don’t have money issues and need guidance around getting a grasp on their finances.
Tip 2 Checklist:
- These type of topics are great for web or mobile-based sessions as some employees won’t show up in person for a “How to Eliminate Debt” seminar, but will participate if it’s online.
- Provide help beyond workplace hours. Shoot video of any in person meetings that are held and make links accessible on a company intranet or through email.
- Incorporate incentives into the program. Have employees create a budget and receive a gift card same as is done for meeting wellness objectives.
Many workplaces may now have up to three generations of employees. Millennials in particular may benefit the most from financial education. They may have watched their parents struggle and want to avoid the same problems. Getting Millennials started on the right path early by following a budget and learning how to save could make them more productive for all their working years ahead.
Tip 3 Checklist:
- Incorporate technology into every meeting – For example, remind participants to download the 401K provider’s app, a budgeting app, or a record-keeping app.
- Offer expert advice from an advisor or plan provider, who will be ready to answer questions from the research Millennials have done on their own.
Reducing the financial stress in employees’ lives needs to begin with the basics and extend over time to retirement planning. Employers that think about financial wellbeing differently will develop effective programs that make a difference in the lives of their employees. That’s why creating and implementing successful financial education initiatives has the power to increase the VOI and ROI of any wellness program too.