15 January 2020
Money has always been a cause of concern for people. The worry is not always about getting a bigger paycheck, but knowing how to manage finances and utilise funds for long-term benefits. 59% of employees say that their biggest cause of stress is financial or money related problems.
But a question arises, somewhat understandably – why should an organisation worry about the financial health of their employees when they are already paying them? The reason is rather simple – financial stress induces sufficient distraction, and this can directly impact productivity, and of course, health. Stressed employees are likely to switch jobs faster as well.
To assist employees with their finances, organisations are now introducing Financial Wellness Programs. These programs are aimed at improving financial literacy among employees as well as helping them in practical finance matters. Financial wellness programs can often involve sessions by experts that offer advice on how and where to invest money, how to do retirement planning, or how to manage a financial crisis.
Such programs also help employees build a better credit rating and managing their debt better. With one such load off their mind, employees will definitely be able to focus better on their work. However, even with organisations offering such programs, employees don’t seem to be adopting them at an appreciable rate. We shall discuss what can be possible reasons behind this.
The most common reason can be that the organisation has devised the program without taking inputs from their employees, and so they don’t find it useful to adopt the financial wellness plan. If an employee doesn’t see the program benefiting them in any way, they will simply not take it up. This shouldn’t be a surprise.
To avoid such an issue, the first step when introducing a plan should always be to communicate to employees. What are their primary finance-related concerns? Are they worried about their retirement plans? Or is it credit card debt that seems to be affecting them? Only after an organisation is aware of the pressing issues, they will be able to address and solve them in their financial wellness programs.
A wellness program should be tailored for a broad audience, since organisations are a diverse workplace consisting of people from all walks of life. The financial comfort of a young employee will be different from that of an experienced one. Such aspects can only be considered if organisations ask their employees for suggestions and contributions.
Financial wellness programs are still a relatively new concept, with many in top management positions remaining unaware of how such programs should be structured. They are unable to build a vision for its usage and benefits to employees, and this naturally results in a passive response.
Financial wellness isn’t just about offering knowledge and information on managing finances (i.e. financial literacy). It covers the theory as well as the practical part of it. Financial wellness combines two aspects:
Therefore, there should be clarity and proper dissemination of information about financial wellness program among employees. Any question and queries about the program should be answered timely so that it becomes easier for an employee to adapt to the program. This is likely to help boost responsiveness.
Some employers tend to believe that paychecks and a handful of additional benefits are adequate measures to ensure the financial health of employees, but this is not always the case. Employees also need help managing their funds. Right from how to budget for the household, manage student and other loans, and saving for contingencies, many do need assistance.
A financial wellness program should put equal emphasis on education as well as benefits. Live sessions, one-on-one-counselling and personal coaching as and when possible – all of these are significant value-adds.
A financial wellness program is an initiative that demands some thought and planning, and can be fairly rudderless if employees don’t seem to be adopting it. Organisations would do well to analyse the critical points and bring in necessary changes. After all, that’s what a true win-win would look like.