With the new paradigm of office culture comes increased efforts among companies to provide for the well-being of their employees. Work from home time, health plans, and even in-house fitness centers have been experimentally rolled out in various corporations to improve employee happiness and, by extension, improve productivity and health. However, some plans account for financial as well as physical health, with 84% of mid- to large-sized companies now providing some sort of financial wellness plan. These incentives are fairly diverse, and come at a time when stress about money has led more and more adults to plan for financial security. And, like any other kind of stress, this can affect performance in the workplace and contribute to other problems as well. Though these plans may involve checkbooks rather than treadmills, they’re just as important in the workplace.
So, if you want to improve the financial well-being of your workplace, what goes into one of these plans?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Depending on the business, geographic area, average employee age, and industry, financial concerns will vary greatly. Some of the more popular programs are training seminars intended to educate employees on the minutiae of personal finance. They require little effort on the part of employees, but allow for concerned individuals to get the information they need to better themselves. These seminars address subjects such as mortgages, debt management, and emergency savings. For younger employees, student loan counseling is another topic that has proven to be popular.
It’s slightly alarming that these basic issues need to be addressed, but the current reality is that many are scared of tackling their finances. Decision paralysis factors into it; there are so many plans for things such as 401k savings that it can be overwhelming even for people that manage their money well. Additionally, more and more households have the stability necessary to easily recover from a significant life event such as a hospitalization or major car accident. Building an emergency fund is skill that many lack—even though having one could be crucial in keeping finances stable.
There are even more options available as well. Personal counseling takes things a step further and is becoming increasingly popular. The advantage of this is that it accounts for the differing financial situations among employees and lets them express their worries in a knowledgeable environment. Some common concerns include not being able to make monthly debts, to the aforementioned unexpected expenses, to the looming specter of retirement savings.
So, regardless of the path taken, every employer will need to consider several factors before executing any financial program. There needs to be measurable success metrics, as any program will draw resources away from other areas. This can be difficult due to the long term implications of financial education, but considering a before and after survey may be wise. They will also need to determine the depth of the program—this is another question of efficacy, and how companies can get the most accomplished without breaking their own budget.
Another question, and a very important one to ask, is whether or not any program will be mandatory. Making a program mandatory may allow companies to get the most out of it, but privacy concerns are a potential problem for anybody looking to do so. Employees may be wary about companies getting involved in their personal finance issues, and so many companies offer incentives for participation, including bonuses or gift cards.
If you are an employer and do not provide the resources to help employees manage their finances, you may find that they are, overtly or not, concerned about their situation. If companies can effectively remedy this, then they can keep their employees content and attract new talent.