Why ___ Benefit Doesn’t Equal a Holistic Financial Wellness Program
More than half of U.S. companies now offer financial wellness initiatives, but what does that include? According to an Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) study, these are the most common employer financial well-being initiatives being offered:
- Tuition reimbursement
- Financial planning education
- Employee assistance programs
- Basic money management tools
EBRI also acknowledges that these financial wellness initiatives are ‘quite traditional’ and don’t necessarily hit the mark when it comes to the financial wellness services and benefits employees really need. Another common financial wellness service is an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. Although these services certainly add value for employees, singularly they are unable to address the real issue at heart.
Stress. Money continues to be the biggest source of stress for Americans. According to a recent BlackRock study, 58% of people ages 18 to 34 said they are too focused on their current financial situation to save for their future. Many employees cannot afford to participate in the company 401(k) plan. And of those that do participate, 60% of investors have already withdrawn money from their retirement account.
To help employees get to a point where they can look toward their future with any sort of optimism, companies must provide resources to help employees improve their overall financial health and decrease money-related stress. Single-point solutions such as 401(k) plans, education or savings accounts are only components of an all-encompassing financial wellness program.
With a diverse workforce of Gen-Zers through Boomers, employees’ financial struggles range widely from trying to establish credit, tackling student loan debt, taking on mortgages, and supporting others including children and aging parents. No one gets a break; their challenges are just different based on their life stage.
If your organization is serious about helping employees survive the challenges of today’s financial reality and thrive, consider a holistic Financial Wellness program that addresses key components:
- Stabilize their current financial situation
- Prevent reoccurring financial issues
- Establish and stay on track with financial goals
- Commit to a behavior of saving (like contributing to the company 401(k))
Stabilize the Current Financial Situation
Many employees are grappling with accumulated debt and are living paycheck-to-paycheck. They often keep their financial struggles private.
This stress doesn’t remain hidden. It comes out at work in the form of preoccupation, absenteeism and stress-related health claims. 72% of employees admit to worrying about their personal finances at work.
A holistic financial wellness program includes the resources to help employees improve their current financial situation with access to student loan services, financial counseling, early wage access, and short-term loans. These offerings help to stabilize their current situations, enabling the employee to start down a path toward greater financial well-being.
Prevent Reoccurring Financial Issues
Credit services can help employees repair their rocky foundation, but without appropriate education and guidance they are unlikely to establish new behaviors that help them avoid falling back into debt. A holistic financial wellness solution not only helps with immediate needs but gives employees the tools they need to begin building a stable platform for their long-term financial well-being.
This solid financial foundation is formed through educational, directional and decision-making resources such as financial calculators and one-on-one coaching sessions with certified financial counselors.
Help Employees Stay on Track
Unless an employee establishes and maintains a budget and commits to putting money away regularly for rainy-day and unexpected financial challenges, a return to debt is quite possible. The right financial wellness solution provides employees with online money-management and budgeting tools and an automated savings vehicle to build that necessary emergency cushion.
Establish Positive Saving Behaviors
Your financial wellness program should offer a personalized approach for each employee, taking into consideration their income, spending habits and long-term goals. With some guidance and a roadmap for success, employees will begin to see their hard work paying off as their savings accounts build. To help employees achieve the eventual goal of retirement readiness, a holistic Financial Wellness solution is going to help address the financial roadblocks preventing entry into your company 401(k) plan, motivate them to begin saving and eventually they’ll be in a position to contribute to retirement and long-term savings accounts.
Offering a financial wellness benefit will help you attract top talent. As their employer, it is up to you to educate them on the benefits and programs you offer as well as to encourage participation. The more value you can provide for your employees, the more likely they are to remain loyal to your organization.