5 ways a financial health component can boost a wellness plan

The overarching priority of employee wellness programs is to improve constituency health and productivity while delivering returns that have a favorable effect on the company’s bottom line. Programs typically place emphasis on lifestyle behaviors such as physical activity, nutrition and tobacco cessation, since these behaviors are cited as the largest contributors of chronic disease, according to the American Heart Association, and consequently result in escalating healthcare costs.

Cognizant of these influences, the common recommendation to employers is to implement healthy eating initiatives, encourage exercise and offer cessation coaching. However, rarely are companies encouraged to add financial wellness, which unintentionally trivializes its importance and moreover, the impact it can render on the workplace populace.

Here are five reasons why including a financial heath component may benefit an organization’s wellness program:

1) Employees want financial education

A study by American Express showed that 85% of employees want to receive financial information in the workplace, and retirement planning has been widely reported to be one of the top benefit concerns. By providing employees with financial education and improving financial literacy, they can improve their personal finances and better prepare for themselves and their families’ future. Workers who participate in financial literacy workshops show intentions of better financial decision-making including increased savings, contributions to retirement, and paying down debt.

Providing financial education also demonstrates that the employee’s financial health is valued, which contributes to a positive relationship with their employer.

2) Financial wellness improves productivity and reduces absenteeism

There appears to be a direct relationship between financial wellness and worker health and performance. Research has demonstrated a link between financial health and psychological distress, which in turn affects job productivity. Chronic stress, which is as a key driver of diseases, often emanates from work-life conflicts related to financial strain, and is estimated to result in more than half of unscheduled absences. Additionally, supervisors report that financially fit employees perform better than those in distress.

3) Financial workshops are of little to no cost to the employer

Organizations large and small can enlist the services of respected financial institutions which lie in close proximity to the worksite and bulk of the workplace demographic. Ordinarily, workshops facilitated by financial institutions can be availed at little to no cost and serve an almost universal benefit to all parties: financial education for employees, warm leads for the financial institution, and a low or no cost solution to an emerging facet of a comprehensive wellness program.

4) Financial workshops foster collaboration and a sense of community

Within the realm of higher education, the collective expertise faculty and staff of business programs can be tapped to infuse programming with ideas or help HR, benefits and wellness professionals create an evidence-based rubric that will help guide employees to better financial health. Graduate and upper-level undergraduate students can be mobilized to teach workshops or work one-on-one with employees to create goals.

5) Financial workshops can involve the whole family

Employers who think outside of the box in terms of offering fringe benefits are apt to attract and retain top talent. Financial workshops that are open to spouse and children dependents can potentially serve as a differentiator. Subjects could cover a gamut of topics appealing to everyone in the household throughout the lifespan: checking versus savings, credit, home buying, college savings, healthcare savings and retirement.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.