By Wendy King and Michelle Clark
The majority of HR professionals give their employees a financial health rating of “fair” and nearly 20 percent report that their employees are “not at all” financially literate according to a national SHRM survey.
That’s an issue. Because when employees are stressed about money (which is the leading source of anxiety) they don’t turn their worry off at work – and the price is being paid in lost productivity.
A growing number of employers are taking steps to fix the problem. And that’s smart. Everyone wins when traditional employee wellness programs are recast in a more holistic, well-rounded way – with financial wellness an important cornerstone.
There is no cookie cutter solution to meet everyone’s needs. But building a customized financial wellness program that’s responsive to specific requirements and comfort levels of different employee groups can be rewarding and valuable.
The first step is to take a good look at employee demographics and their financial situations. It’s understood that the majority of today’s workforce is populated by three distinct age groups – Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Each not only has different financial stressors, but distinct preferences on how they prefer to receive assistance to deal with them. A financial wellness program has to be flexible to meet the following needs:
- Boomers on the verge of retirement are wondering if they can afford it or even want to retire. And if they need to work, they are worried they’ll have a hard time finding a job.
- Generation X can barely think about retirement planning when they’re trying to cover the mortgage, raise kids, save for their kids’ education and at the same time, shoulder responsibilities for their aging parents.
- Millennials are burdened by student loan debt while trying to stretch their paychecks so they can live on their own instead of with their parents.
There also are vastly different ways they want to access support. Boomers may be okay with online resources and some one-on-one coaching. But Millennials and Gen Xers may want more high-tech resources such as websites offering basic money courses and worksheets to help with budgets, housing or investment planning.
Once a solution has been established, the next step is getting people to partake. You don’t want to target employees since privacy is a major consideration. Offering options allows employees to engage privately on their own terms. That’s why the online solutions are ideal for individual financial issues, offered in tandem with more on-site sessions on general concerns. And there’s always the potential of offering one-on-one financial counseling or financial wellness coaches to round out your program.
Next steps? Talk to your HUB advisor. We have the insights, experience and capabilities to help you understand the need and create a financial wellness program that pays off.Learn more about the latest Workplace Wellness Trends.