It’s no secret that employees who are healthy and happy are more productive and engaged at work. Wellness also keeps heath care costs down. It’s a strong argument for employee wellness programs. More and more, employers are adding financial wellness programs to supplement the physical ones, remembering that employees who are stressed out may not be contributing to the bottom line.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a report advocating for these programs, which found it’s well worth investing in your employees’ fiscal fitness. “The return on investment to employers from comprehensive health wellness programs, though hard to pinpoint, appears to be large, ranging from $1 to $3 or more per dollar invested,” the report found.
Not only can improving personal finances help employees focus at work – it can also prepare them for rising healthcare costs, like deductibles and premiums, writes Warren S. Hersch on LifeHealthPro.com. Employees are interested in such programs, as well as benefits like short-term loans to help during an unexpected emergency, Hersch writes.
Employers are concerned, too, writes Melissa A. Winn on Employee Benefits Adviser’s website, that “their existing benefit packages are not adequately meeting employees’ most critical needs.” For these programs to work, advisers should help employers focus on educating their employees and encouraging them to learn about retirement savings and other financial best practices. Another positive result: such education helps employees “better appreciate the benefit offerings their employer is providing,” Winn writes, quoting Tony Franchimone, a Principal with Retirement Benefits Group. “The more comfortable people are with their understanding of their financial benefits,” Franchimone told Winn, “the more comfortable they are going to feel that they are on the right path and the more satisfied they are going to be with their work experience.”
To implement such programs successfully, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests starting early – when employees are hired. “When employees are new to a company, they are generally more open to change. As a result, this can be a good time to work on financial wellness priorities as new employees are focused on making important decisions about tax withholding, retirement savings, and employer-offered health insurance,” according to the bureau. “Successful programs that begin at employee onboarding can include financial education workshops and individual financial coaching.”
The bureau also recommends that finance programs allow co-workers to support each other as they improve their finances: “As employees form small teams, they often encourage each other, and that peer support may help individuals adopt and sustain sound financial habits.”