(Family Features) Employers have both an opportunity and a responsibility to care for their employees' financial wellbeing. Employers that help their teams achieve better financial health tend to foster healthier, more productive and more committed workforces.
In particular, workplace financial health is essential for those in the service industry or that employ hourly or gig workers, who are often faced with unpredictable work schedules and paychecks.
"Research shows employees who are offered financial health benefits or options are less stressed and have higher workplace satisfaction," said Jennifer Tescher, CEO of Financial Health Network, the nation's authority on consumer financial health. "Offering a comprehensive financial health program – which includes traditional benefits such as insurance and retirement planning, as well as access to emergency savings, affordable credit, financial content and more – can give employees the buffer they need in emergencies. Additionally, it can help teach them financial health habits that can have lasting benefits throughout their careers and lives."
Business leaders and human resource managers interested in implementing effective employee financial health strategies can begin planning with this advice in honor of #FinHealthMatters Day from the experts at Financial Health Network in partnership with MetLife Foundation.
- Understand the opportunity to improve employee financial health. To begin, companies should understand what financial health is – how individuals are able to manage their day-to-day financial lives while building for the future – and its significance in the workplace.
- Align your organization in support of employee financial health. While human resource departments are critical components to successful programs and frequently spearhead these initiatives, it is important to garner support from stakeholders across the organization, including senior leadership.
- Talk to employees about their financial needs. An effective program addresses specific employee needs. To that end, it is imperative for employers to talk to employees about their financial health through conversations, surveys or focus groups that respect and ensure privacy.
- Identify and implement appropriate solutions. Armed with an accurate gauge of employees’ financial health challenges, employers can reach out to benefits brokers, retirement providers, fintech companies and other service providers to discuss appropriate solutions that help employees spend, save, borrow and plan.
- Drive engagement. A successful strategy rollout, and consistent employee engagement over the long-term, requires significant internal support from marketing and communications to ensure employees understand which solutions are available and the benefits of participating.
- Measure success. Tracking changes to employee financial health over time through surveys, participation, metrics and other data can help employers determine if the programs and interventions introduced are having the intended long-term impact and leading to improvements.
- Commit to improvement. Measuring success not only reveals a program's efficacy, it can also highlight opportunities for improvement. As with other benefits programs, an effective financial wellness initiative hinges on consistent evaluation and refinement to maximize value both for employees and employers.
Use Financial Wellness Benefits as a Competitive Edge
In a survey of 1,000 employees of mid-sized and large U.S. firms, Financial Health Network uncovered insights regarding workers' financial needs and preferences for financial wellness benefits. By developing solutions targeted around the needs of groups like millennials and women, employers can set themselves apart in a competitive marketplace.
Millennials are more likely than other generations to want assistance in short-term and long-term planning, with emergency savings being their top short-term need. Across long-term needs, they want help with retirement, planning for the future and investing.
For millennials, an employer that supports them personally is a top priority and their finances are no exception. Not only are these workers comfortable receiving financial help from their employers, the majority of them expect it.
Women across all age cohorts are more likely than their male colleagues to say they’re financially stressed. Building an effective workplace financial health strategy for women requires a targeted approach. Women have less help in managing their finances but are also less comfortable receiving support at work and are less likely to have used the financial wellness benefits offered to them.
Learn more about encouraging employees' financial health in the workplace at finhealthnetwork.org.
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