January is widely regarded as the time of year for personal and professional reflection – when we consider what we accomplished and where we fell a little short. It’s also when we focus on goals for the year ahead in all facets of our lives, from physical health (probably the most common) to our emotional and financial health.
And that’s the topic I want focus on. Because, when it comes to employee well-being programs, financial well-being was one of the hottest – and most important – topics in 2017. And it likely will remain a timely topic or even accelerate in 2018.
Why? For starters, employers are increasingly looking at employee health from a holistic view, recognizing its physical, social, emotional, environmental and financial dimensions.
Financial well-being is on employees’ minds, and it’s impacting their work. According to research conducted by PFT Employee Benefit Solutions:
More than 75 percent of employees say they think about their personal finances at least once a week. One-third of these employees think about their money daily.
25-30 percent say they have financial concerns that distract and prevent them from doing their job to the best of their ability. And one-third say they even avoid financial issues because they feel too overwhelmed.
After considering the per-employee cost for a full-scope financial wellness program that includes four key financial literacy and empowerment aspects – assessments, education, budgeting tools and calculators and professional financial coaching – 80 percent of employer respondents said they would definitely or probably offer it as part of their benefits package.
64 percent of employer respondents preferred that such a program be offered by a financially competent health and wellbeing provider rather than a bank, financial consultant, 401(k) provider or other source.
Three incremental approaches to implement
Clearly, employees are seeking help in making smarter financial decisions. And not just when it comes to retirement savings. Employees want to feel confident about their money and investments. They want to reduce/get out of debt, move beyond a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, and feel confident about their financial decisions. The bottom line is they just want to worry less about money.
With employees in a reflective state of mind, January is an ideal time for employers to begin helping employees build their confidence when making smart financial decisions.
Here are three incremental approaches:
1: Remind employees of existing tools and resources
Given many employers’ budgets already are allocated this time of year, it’s a good opportunity for them to remind their employees of existing tools and resources. Employees often have a host of resources right at their fingertips and they don’t even know it. If you haven’t already, you might want to remind employees of the educational tools and resources your company already offers, including employee assistance program (EAP) providers, financial organizations and information available online.
2: Consider outside vendors
Familiarity with outside vendors will help employees expand upon their base of knowledge. Set aside time for employees to meet as a group. Remind them of the importance of maximizing tax-advantaged investment options such as a 401(k). Ask them to consider their financial wellbeing, focusing on one goal at a time and where improvements could be made. It could be saving for retirement, tuition for children or paying down debt.
3: Seek holistic solutions
Providing information is certainly an effective way to educate employees but it may not always result in people taking action. Employers ultimately will want to consider a holistic solution that offers both educational resources and personalized support. Take MoneySteps, for example. Available to employees through an employer’s benefit package at no cost to the participant, solutions like MoneySteps offer a comprehensive, private and personalized approach to financial wellbeing that partners education with a focus on behavior change. Participants can communicate with financial coaches via phone or secure messaging. These certified financial coaches offer an unbiased approach and will never recommend or sell a particular service or product. They help motivate employees to take incremental actions that research has proven increases confidence in financial decisions.
The views of the author of this article do not necessarily represent the views of Gradifi. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax or financial advisors to understand the tax, financial and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this article.