It is well known that employees bring their deep fears regarding a lack of personal financial well-being to the workplace, thereby generating tension and introducing worry into the corporate culture. This high level of stress felt by employees regarding their current and future financial well-being is not imagined.  It is very real – and it is now being acknowledged by the corporate world.

In fact, in last year’s eighth annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-Being Survey from the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, it was reported that 84% of the 141 mid-sized and large companies participating in the study have established financial wellness programs for their staff. Interestingly, this 2017 statistics reflects an increase of 76% from the 2016 results.

This escalation of wellness programs in the workplace is a direct reflection of the growing concern among employees regarding their financial vulnerability and the realization by company leaders that they must provide resources to address the challenges.

Employers whoprovide their employees with financial wellness support understand their responsibility to offer solutions that can help reduce this pressure. With this in mind, Clint Key, research officer at Pew Charitable Trusts noted that, “The overwhelming majority of people are mostly seeking financial stability for their families, not economic mobility. All it takes is one financial shock – like a car breaking down or an unexpected illness – to destabilize a household.” 

Surveys indicate that all too many households don’t have the resources they would need to address an unanticipated expense of anywhere from $500-$2000! In response to this challenge, companies are looking for ways to both educate employees on budgeting, saving, and managing debt while at the same time helping them by providing tools like employer-sponsored savings accounts for emergency situations. It is this two-pronged approach that is going to have a tangible impact because it focuses on both preparing employees through awareness building and also offering realistic tools that will enable them to develop their own financial security.    

Education is the first step

As employees seek help in managing their daily finances, reaching their financial goals, and being prepared for unforeseen financial risks, employers can help in many ways.

Companies of all sizes are finding that their employees appreciate being exposed to important financial information through Lunch ‘N Learns (or brown bag lunch presentations), informal roundtables, presentations by attorneys regarding wills and estate plans or help regarding mortgages, student loan debt, and income protection.  Some also offer personal, confidential (ensuring privacy) financial consulting and coaching – through in-person as well as online platforms. Others offer a library of videos and articles that share ideas, inform employees, and provide action steps on everything from managing money to protect against risk as well as cultivating day to day financial confidence.

Arming employees with facts and options can go a long way to minimizing their anxiety.  In addition, corporate leaders know that educating employees in an unbiased, objective way and then helping them measure and assess their distinctive financial situations are essential to the process. Further, employees who have been supported and encouraged to create a comprehensive, reasonable path to financial security are much more likely to remain engaged, focused and loyal to the organization – not only remaining themselves, but also referring the company to their peers and friends.

Tools and resources can bolster employees’ financial wellbeing

Step Two in this process consists of offering workplace wellness tools. After taking the first step of educating the employees, it is important to offer tangible options.  Other common programs offered in the workplace are focused on (1) healthcare spending such as Health Savings Account (HSA); the potential of participating in a Flexible Spending Account and (2) retirement, including 401(k), 403 (b), 457 deferred compensation  or 408 (IRA).

Corporate commitment can make a difference

Those companies that are on board or are moving quickly in that direction are benefiting from helping their employees gain more control over managing their financial security.

In “More Companies Offer Financial Wellness Programs,” Robert Powell, Special contributor to USA TODAY, writes on this topic saying, “For one, companies that offer this sort of benefit could save $3 for each dollar they spend, according to a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report.” Powell goes on to say, “What's more, financial wellness programs can reduce absenteeism, as well as disability and workers' compensation costs. That's because poor financial management causes stress, which sets the stage for medical problems.  And if all that wasn't reason enough, good financial wellness programs reduce borrowing from retirement savings and help participants achieve stability.

The advantages to both employers and employees are becoming more obvious and are serving as the driving force behind the growing momentum for financial wellness in the workplace.