Applying a 1-2-3 Approach to Financial Wellness Benefits Programs

Posted by Kelley Butler on Aug 24, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The data is sad and shocking: More than two-thirds of Americans (76%) live paycheck to paycheck. Not saving, not setting goals for the future – merely surviving one Friday to another two weeks later. That’s no way to live. And of course as HR people, our first instinct is to want to help.

So, 100 percent raises for everyone, right?

In case you’re not the only one who couldn’t get that solution past the C-suite, there are a few other ideas that are effective without breaking the bottom line. Many of them are wrapped up in the relatively new benefits realm of financial wellness.

I know – many companies are still getting their arms wrapped around physical wellness programs, but the good news is physical health and financial security are linked in key ways like improved productivity, lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction. So, for employers, it isn’t a Sophie’s Choice of sacrificing one type of program for another, but setting up an integrated wellbeing initiative in a way that addresses both needs.

Not to oversimplify the complex minefield of emotions and ingrained habits we all have about money and financial planning, but a straightforward 1-2-3 approach can be solid foundation for crafting workplace programs.

1 wallet – While most employers offer a wide spectrum of benefits to respond to employees’ diverse needs and life stages, it’s important to remember that for workers all of those programs come from one, finite amount of money. Medical, dental, HSA, FSA, 401(k), college savings plans, pet insurance, commuter benefits and more all get paid for from each employees’ “one wallet.”

One_Wallet-3.png

Making decisions about which plans to prioritize over others – when they all feel equally important – can be overwhelming and leave employees with negative feelings about money and their benefits, which is clearly the opposite of what employers are going for. Decision support tools are key to helping employees feel empowered to make informed benefits decisions and manage their one wallet successfully.

2-way communication – Simply telling employees to save more in an HSA, 401(k), or other account isn’t effective. If it were, all workers would be very confident in a secure retirement, compared than the barely one in five workers who feel that way today. (As a career long benefits communicator, I’d also have no job, but that’s neither here nor there.) Instead, ask employees what their specific financial worries are, and how they most want their benefits to help.

Surveying them doesn’t have to be flashy, difficult, or expensive (PS: Businessolver can help). When you do, you’ll see the ROI of a more engaged workforce that believes your company is empathetic to what they need.

3 hours – The amount of time per week that financially stressed employees spend dealing with money problems. Investing in financial wellness programs can help those workers get that time back and improve their bottom line at home – so they can focus at work on the bottom line for your organization.

Of all the numbers and stats and data points you can reference to illustrate the need for financial wellbeing programs, three hours is the one that to me simply makes the business case while never forgetting people at the heart of it. And it’s a much easier sell than 100 percent raises.

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