Financial wellness, like physical and mental wellness, is essential to overall health.1 Research is narrowing in on a holistic approach to financial education as the most effective.

Financial literacy programs are growing in popularity. One-size-fits-all programs, though, miss the mark with many participants. This can lead to lower participation rates.

A holistic approach to financial wellness considers human factors. Differences in age, demographics, goals, and motivations affect each person’s financial needs.

Financial Stress in the Workplace

Financial stress is a strain on both workers and their companies. Employees who are stressed about money are more likely to waste work hours. Reducing financial stress may reduce absenteeism.2

Thirty-five percent of employees report financial worries to distract them at work.3 Companies focused on a thriving workforce need to address this important aspect.

Financial wellness programs both reduce financial stress and increase employee retention.3 An effective wellness program needs to be holistic, though. The needs of employees vary widely.

Generational Differences

Most workers these days can be grouped into three generational categories. Millennials (born 1981- 1996), Generation X (1965-1980), and Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Workers in different stages of their lives have very different concerns about finances.

Millennials and Gen X are most concerned with saving enough for emergencies.

Baby Boomers, meanwhile, are primarily concerned with being able to retire on time. 51% of them expect they will need to postpone retirement.

 80% of Millennials carry student loan debt, compared to just 10% of Baby Boomers.3

Because of these differences, any financial wellness program needs to be comprehensive. A strong program addresses not just things like retirement savings. It must address budgeting, investing, and beyond.

Demographic Differences

Differences in employee concerns expand even further into varying financial and demographic situations.

  • 49% of employees plan to fund education expenses for children or grandchildren.
  • 19% are currently providing financial assistance for parents or in-laws.
  • Nearly half of employees with adult children provide financial support for them.3

These situations all reflect different sides of the same coin. These financial worries all need to be addressed, but the same approach will not work for all of them.

Financial Wellness is Broad

A program should be holistic to address all the facets of financial wellness. A multi-pronged approach is the best way to maximize participation.

Wellness is not a one-size-fits-all situation.

For one person, physical wellness might be running five miles. For another, it may be walking for thirty minutes. Similarly, financial wellness looks different for different people.

A holistic financial wellness program addresses multiple issues. It should cover all life stages of finances:

  • Managing student loan debt
  • Budgeting
  • Investing
  • Retirement Savings
  • Insurance and Health Care Costs

The program also needs to address the different preferences employees have for seeking help.

27% of workers say they would most like access to an unbiased counselor. But, 26% would find student loan repayment relief the most helpful.3

A Holistic Approach

A holistic program will have many options for participants, including:

  1. Live counselors

Unbiased financial experts who are not selling particular products.

  1. Gamification

Studies have shown that game-play increases learning retention. Incentives increase participation in wellness programs.4 Think points, prizes, and competitions.

  1. Student Loan Tools

Student loan refinancing can help ease the mental burden on young workers. 43% of Millennials with loans report a significant impact on their financial goals.

  1. Retirement Planning

Running out of money is ranked as the number one retirement concern for all three generations.

  1. Interactive Tools

Interaction, like gamification, increases interest and participation in a program. This can include educational courses and calculators for home mortgages or car loans.

  1. Peer-to-Peer

Community is important. Many people enjoy sharing experiences and advice with peers instead of professionals.

Reaping the Benefits

A financial wellness program with all these aspects will be more successful than a narrow approach. An in-person finance workshop has less effect. It is far separated from financial decisions and easily forgotten. Workshops like those have limited impact in improving financial capability.5

The benefits of reducing employee stress are well known. The effectiveness of financial wellness programs, too, has been thoroughly proven. Reducing employee financial stress needs to be a goal of companies. An effective and holistic financial wellness program increases employee wellness, satisfaction, and productivity.

This is not something companies can afford to ignore. After all, 81% of Millennials and 75% of Gen Xers say they would be attracted to a different company that cares more about their financial wellness.3 Are you prepared to lose three-quarters of your workforce?

 

 

1 - https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf

2 - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886368703261215

3 - https://wagestream.com/resources/report-pwcs-8th-annual-employee-financial-wellness-survey-2019/

4 - http://www.sandel.cruzdesanandres.reality-xp.com/professional/files/GameBasedLearningStudies.pdf

5 - https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/mnsc.2013.1849