Image Courtesy of: Seattle Municipal Archives

Promoting wellness in organizations is about looking at people’s health as more than just yearly check ups. Wellness can and does impact health, but it also influences quality of life, which affects people’s outlook and behavior just as much. Organizations are learning to look at what problems their members face both on and off the clock and working with members to reduce or eliminate them.  A financial wellness program is a major piece in investing in employees’ well-being.

Understand your employees

The first step in designing a financial wellness program is understanding the kinds of financial decisions your employees are making. Situations vary from home to home and each comes with its own set of needs. Retirement savings are based on the quality of life individuals are looking to have in retirement age, other kinds of savings prioritize different things like children’s college fund or a nice new boat.

Knowing what people value is important in showing them how financial management can bring them closer to their goals.

Fit employee needs

Financial wellness is universal; how to teach financial literacy to employees is not. People at different companies have different goals and different levels of understanding. Financial wellness programs should be specific to their audience and provide employees with the resources and supports that best help them succeed.  

A cohort of millennials with an average of 0 kids will have a very different conception of financial planning than a 40-year-old employee with a 16-year-old-child.

Lean on best practices

There is a lot of research and discussion about what has worked and why. Companies have implemented a number of programs with varying levels of results and can assist in narrowing down what will work best with your organization. Benefits programs are an opportunity to start employees toward a life of financial management, but it has to make sense to them (i.e. 401(k) matching contribution), it should be automated, and it should be well designed (i.e. different investment styles for different phases of the plan).

Overcome Challenges

Once you build it, you’re going to want them to come. Financial solutions and communications should be segmented to target employees at diverse income and financial knowledge levels and frequently so the message sticks.

When they come, you’re going to want them to stay. Engagement can be targeted around incentive programs, goal tracking and achievements. Tracking programs and engagement levels can then help in making adjustments for future participants or real-time changes.

Build a business case

The cost of financial wellness programs varies depending on scope and size. Even if an employer spends $50,000 per year to implement a financial wellness program, he’s still spending less than what it takes to replace a single employee. In this case, a successful program would need to retain just two employees to be considered a success. 

There’s no question that even the most rudimentary financial wellness program can yield significant savings. In a world where employee turnover is becoming more and more common, financial wellness programs are a no-brainer.