April is National Financial Literacy Month – the perfect time to address one of the most important – but often ignored – pillars of health: Financial Wellness.
A healthy life includes more than physical well-being. Financial stress can cause a wide range of issues for employees and significant challenges for employers. Helping to relieve that stress through financial benefits, tools, and education not only shows employees that you care about their economic security, but it also leads to higher retention rates and increased productivity in the workplace.
Making sense of financial wellness
It’s true that the majority of Americans feel stressed about money on a regular basis. Financial challenges take a toll on mental and physical health leading to missed work and higher health care costs. Since many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and are dealing with extra economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, employer-sponsored financial wellness programs are more important than ever. When employees feel empowered and make wise financial decisions, everyone benefits – including employers.
When employees are financially secure, employers benefit too
What makes a good financial wellness program?
The foundation of financial wellness is financial education. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans, especially younger workers, are not well versed in finances. Offering financial wellness programs at work provides much needed benefits access and education.
A good financial wellness program accomplishes three things:
- Relieves stress
- Encourages financial independence
- Helps employees plan for their future
Start with what you’ve got. Many employee benefit plans already include financial incentives for using the plans wisely. However, employees may not know how to use them to their full advantage. Take inventory of the plans you’re offering and how they can help employees financially. By communicating these offerings, employers can help their staff understand the value and make the most of benefits like FSAs, HSAs, 401(k)s, discount programs, and voluntary benefits.
Add these essential elements
Encourage informed health care decisions
Let’s face it, employees are not taking enough time (less than 17 minutes) to learn about and select their benefits. While choosing the right medical plan can have a significant financial impact, plan complexity or lack of knowledge may make health care decisions difficult for employees. Help employees understand the differences in their plans through cost comparisons, lifestyle examples, and highlights of tax-savings opportunities, such as HSAs and FSAs.
Relieve financial burden and improve DEI
Finding extra money each month and knowing where to invest it can be a challenge for many – but, for disadvantaged individuals, it may feel impossible. Show your company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by offering programs that work to improve financial security for those who experience racial, gender, age, or socio-economic bias.
Offer additional low-cost, high-value financial wellness solutions
From programs that help employees pay off student loans to benefits that lower taxes, there are a multitude of plans available that provide financial wellness solutions.
- Add money-saving tools to your benefits package, like SmartDollar, that will give employees simple steps to build healthy financial habits.
- Include student loan and tuition reimbursement programs to provide financial relief for younger employees who are just starting out.
Time to shine a spotlight on financial wellness
The key to ensuring that your financial wellness program succeeds is through a cohesive communication strategy. This can be done in simple, but effective, ways.
- Build a financial wellness section on your benefits microsite.
- Send direct mail communications, such as emails, postcards, videos, and financial wellness brochures.
- Incorporate targeted messaging at each stage of the employee lifecycle.
When creating your communication plan, be sure to include financial education and clear calls to action. Plan to communicate throughout the year to keep it top of mind. Learn more.
The Bottom Line
Financially secure employees are healthier, happier, and more productive. Giving employees opportunities to learn about, and use, their financial benefits through strategic communications spread throughout the year reaps long-lasting rewards.
Ready to get started? We’re here to help.