Financial wellness programs help employees to lower stress levels and also make them feel more valued. In order for these programs to be of immediate use and benefit, they must be properly constructed, according to Carla Dearing, CEO of financial planning service SUM180.

She says advisers and employers implementing a financial wellness program should consider these three tips to make the program a successful one.

Carla Dearing

1. Recognize how emotional money issues are and deal with them that way

Research confirms that emotions like being overwhelmed and discouraged about money are foremost in creating the barriers to saving.

Financial wellness programs should be sure to address employees’ financial concerns in terms of emotional cues such as security, stability, and protection, and reassure them they have not “failed,” but rather that they can begin from wherever they are to plan and save for the future.

2. Make the steps for getting started simple

Programs need to be structured so that employees can start where they are — wherever that is — and build from there.

To help employees relate and take the first steps, we suggest programs provide information and support for only three things that each employee can do now, given their specific circumstances, to move forward toward a more secure financial future.

For instance, an employee with younger children might be given a plan to begin college savings before looking to buy a bigger house. Besides taking full advantage of all available qualified retirement plans, getting that college savings plan on track is all they would focus on for now.

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"Our experience shows that most people feel comfortable, and are able to move forward with confidence, when given such tangible, manageable advice from a trusted source."

Our experience shows that most people feel comfortable, and are able to move forward with confidence, when given such tangible, manageable advice from a trusted source.

3. Take a holistic approach to the employee’s financial picture.

Most of the financial industry is focused on one element of people’s financial picture. Bankers focus on your savings and personal loans. Insurance agents on insurance products. Real estate agents on your home. 401(k) administrators on your qualified retirement accounts. Brokers on your investments.

This leaves the individual in a bind, without anyone to sort out: What order should I approach these topics in? How do they relate? Do they all tie together?

Providing access to an adviser or service that takes a holistic approach based on the entire picture is an obvious help to employees.

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