Creating holistic financial wellness for your employees

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Devin Miller
November 30, 2023

Everyone aspires to financial wellness, but how can employers set up their employees to achieve it? More companies are having this conversation in the face of alarming numbers of Americans who are financially stressed and whose job performance is suffering as a result. According to our latest SecureSave research, 77% of respondents said that stress over money made it difficult for them to focus at work and had a negative impact on their productivity. And with 63% of Americans unable to cover even a $500 emergency that stress isn’t surprising.

Financial wellness refers to an individual’s ability to comfortably manage and plan for financial obligations. When one’s financial wellness is high, they’re likely to experience peace of mind about their finances and feel more secure in their financial future. This aspect of wellness is crucial, not only for people’s personal life, but also for their professional performance and ability to focus at work. Organizations are in an excellent position to help their employees improve their financial well-being — and in turn help foster more engaged, loyal team members.

Where to start: Assessment and needs analysis

Understanding your employees’ financial health is the first step toward developing an effective financial wellness program. Assess your employees’ current financial state using surveys or interviews. This process can help you identify common financial challenges like debt management or retirement planning, which your organization can then target directly in the program you develop. If your survey discovers that a majority of employees have poor financial literacy, for example, then your program might include a more robust education component.

5 key components of a holistic financial wellness program

A comprehensive financial wellness program should have various components to support employees across the spectrum of financial literacy and security, including:

Financial education

Providing education on financial topics is a cornerstone of any wellness program. For example, workshops on budgeting and saving can help employees better manage their daily finances, while sessions on investing can prepare them for long-term financial stability. A survey by Charles Schwab showed that 73% of employees wanted more help in making retirement investment decisions​​. It is no longer enough to simply offer benefits like a 401(k); educating your employees on how to use these benefits effectively is equally important.

Consider bringing in experts or partnering with financial institutions to offer insights from seasoned professionals. Google, for instance, provides its employees with financial coaching sessions with finance professionals as part of their benefits package​​.

Employee benefits

The right mix of employee benefits, including medical insurance, retirement plans, health savings accounts (HSAs), and emergency savings accounts (ESAs), can significantly improve an employee’s financial well-being. ESAs, for example, offer a safety net for unexpected expenses, helping reduce financial stress. A research study out of the University of Pittsburgh involving U.S. truck drivers showed that those enrolled in an ESA program who had been in a financially precarious position upon starting the program exhibited improved financial stability and better driving performance after participating in the program​​.

Retirement planning

A robust retirement plan is a key feature of financial wellness programs. Many employers assist employees in maximizing their retirement contributions, often by matching a portion of their savings. Fidelity Investments reported that in 2023, Americans had only 78% of the funds they would need for retirement, indicating that there’s plenty of room for improvement in employees’ retirement practices.

Mental health support

Financial stress is often linked to mental health issues. A report by the American Psychological Association revealed that money was a significant source of stress for 66% of Americans​​. Providing employees with access to mental health resources, like confidential counseling services or employee assistance programs (EAPs), can help employees navigate financial pressures and provide them with more resources to alleviate their money-related stress. EAPs can be particularly beneficial, helping employees alleviate personal problems that often relate to their finances using tools like short-term counseling, assessments, and referrals to external specialists.

Flexible work arrangements 

Promoting a healthy work-life balance is crucial in reducing employee financial stress. Flexible work options can be a win-win for both employees and employers. For instance, remote or hybrid work can reduce commuting costs and time, contributing to better financial management and overall work-life balance. 

The Pew Research Center found that 39% of U.S. employees in 2023 worked remotely all or some of the time​​. Flexibility is a top criterion for many working parents, reports Werklabs. The most highly sought after form of work flexibility among working parents, the research group found, is a work schedule with set work days, but flexible hours within the scheduled day.

How to measure program success

Once you establish a financial wellness program, measure its success using key performance indicators (KPIs) like reduced employee turnover, increased participation in retirement plans or ESAs, or employee feedback. Regular assessments can help you refine the program over time to continue meeting your employees’ needs.

Emergency savings account success stories

Companies like Lee & Hayes and Filtec Precise have successfully integrated SecureSave’s emergency savings account offering into their financial wellness programs. Filtec Precise, a manufacturing company with 50 employees, experienced a 98% adoption rate of ESAs among their employees and has retained 93% of users. An IP law firm with nearly 200 employees, Lee & Hayes experienced a 59% adoption rate and 98% of those users remain on the platform. The extremely high user retention rate indicates high levels of engagement and suggests that employees are deriving significant value from the ESA offering.

Start building an employee financial wellness program today

Investing in the financial wellness of your employees is a smart decision that will benefit your organization through increased productivity, loyalty, and overall workplace morale. As employee stress lowers, engagement will inevitably increase. By addressing various aspects of financial well-being, you can help employees achieve greater financial stability and satisfaction, which in turn benefits the organization as a whole.

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Devin Miller

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