According to a 2016 study commissioned by MetLife, nearly half of all American employees are concerned about their financial stability. Today’s employees are dealing with staggering student loan debt, credit card debt, and stagnant wages. It’s no surprise then that the number of employees seeking out companies that will promote their financial well being, beyond just providing an adequate salary, is on the rise.
Research shows that financial stress can cost businesses big time. Financially insecure employees tend to be more stressed, less focused, and more likely to miss work, decreasing their overall productivity. If companies wish to alleviate these issues, they have to think about how they can tackle employee financial burdens, beyond paying them a reasonable salary. When employees have some help paying off student loans, saving for retirement, and budgeting for everyday living, they’re free to focus their full attention on their work. Simply put, promoting financial wellness at work can drive productivity and boost retention rates.
Offer Educational Workshops
It’s easy to assume that employees know what they’re doing when it comes to life’s biggest financial decisions, but many are just hoping they’ll figure it out when the time comes. Recruit finance experts from within the company, as well as outside resources, to train employees on hot topics like paying off student loans and credit card debt and planning for homeownership and retirement. These sessions are low-cost, if not free, for employers, but create the sense that your company takes care of its employees.
Offer Financial Planning Programs
According to the MetLife study, half of respondents said they would be more likely to accept and stay at a job if it offered financial planning programs. If that’s not an incentive, what is?
Programs like 401k’s offer additional incentive for employee retention, as employees typically can’t access any employer contributions until they’ve been at the company for a specified time.
But financial planning services could be as simple as pointing employees towards a retirement income calculator or giving them a projected pension statement.
Today’s employees are looking for financial assistance beyond what a salary can provide. There are tons of events in which employees will be hit with financial costs they may not have planned for. How will they cope when a family member racks up a medical bill or it’s time to send a child to college?
Subsidizing secondary education or providing student loan assistance is a popular option, as is disability insurance. What about helping employees pay off credit card debt, or choosing the more proactive option: credit monitoring? Some companies provide low-cost legal services. Paying for some or all of an employee’s childcare expense is a surefire way to boost retention.
Spread Awareness Of Benefits
Employees can’t use benefits they don’t know about, in which case they won’t factor them into their praise of the company. Incorporate information on benefits into the onboarding process, and send out quarterly emails with updates and reminders. Benefit enrollment information can even be incorporated into yearly and quarterly performance reviews.
Simplify the Enrollment Process
A tedious enrollment process cand discourage employees and rob you of all the benefits that come with financially sound workers. Encourage employees to start the process early, and let them know that HR is available to advise them on which plan to choose. Create a guide to enrollment options, ideally a webpage but at least a detailed email, that compares the pros and cons of each plan, whether things have changed since the prior year, and some commonly asked questions. You may want to hold a meeting where employees can ask questions. Send reminders about enrollment deadlines, and make online enrollment available when possible.
Promote Both Emergency and Retirement Savings
According to the 2018 PWC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 42 percent of respondents say they will likely dip into retirement savings for current expenses. You can start by educating employees about the importance of saving for emergencies. According to Investopedia, many experts agree that you should have enough cash in the bank to last you 6 months in case of an emergency or unforseen life change. They recommend putting aside 20 percent of monthly income towards “financial goals,” whether that’s paying off credit card debt or strengthening your savings.
Offer Financial Advising
According to the same survey, 54 percent of employees said that they’d like a third party to advise them on their financial decisions. This can be as simple as bringing a financial advisor into the office for a day (or week, depending on the size of the company) to be available for appointments with employees.
Offer the Best Healthcare Benefits Possible
The PWC survey revealed that many people are so concerned about healthcare that they’d take a lower salary in exchange for better health benefits and that they list it as a reason for delaying retirement. So don’t skimp on the healthcare plans!
Forbes reccommends offering optional add-ons to your standard plans, like accident policies, and flexible spending accounts, which can be funded with money from an employee’s paycheck before taxes. Other low-cost health benefits include a health hotline, a searchable online database of in-network healthcare providers, and even office wellness programs. You can advertise bi-weekly office-wide walks, or bring in a yoga instructor. Even in-office flu shots can cut down on employee sick days, which save both the company and employee money.
Create A Mentor Program
This is another free program which can really boost morale. When employees feel supported and like they have someone to ask questions and validate their financial decisions, they’ll worry less.
In Review: How To Promote Financial Wellness At Work