What Are Employees Truly Expecting from Financial Wellness Programs?

By : Srinath Gururajrao

Vice President & CHRO, Nexval Group

Corporations globally are facing exciting and challenging times in the hyper-competitive 21st century. Innovative financial wellness programs are being rolled out across organizations in a bid to attract and retain talent. These programs vary widely across sectors and can range from simple online tutorials to seminars, standard health and retirement programs.

An organization’s Financial Wellness program defines its culture and commitment to their employees and sets the tone for future leadership. As HR professionals hunt coast to coast and crunch benefit numbers to get the best talent onboard, what many wellness programs fail to capture are the employees’ expectations.

An ideal financial wellness program aims to lend a helping hand to employees at every stage of their financial lives. Whether it’s saving for their child’s education, buying a new house or a car or an effective retirement plan, a holistic program goes a long way in bolstering employee productivity and increasing employee engagement.

As an industry expert, having spent a significant amount of time in the HR fraternity, I have observed that money, or lack thereof, can cause huge anxiety among employees and be a constant source of stress. Inevitably, such monetary worries can get carried into the workplace with negative repercussions for both employee and employer. Following are 3 essential features to look for when choosing a Financial Wellness program for your organization.

1.  Program Flexibility

The key to an effective wellness program is going beyond the basics. Employees need schemes that help them achieve true financial stability and the requirements often differ from employee to employee. Hence, a flexible and customizable program goes a long way and caters to all segments of employee with varied financial needs. It is also critical to pay attention to the tools used for communication for enhancing the effectiveness of the program. Baby boomers may prefer physical, face-to-face interactions to know their options and understand its uses. Millennials, on the other hand, would mostly prefer online and mobile-accessible resources, online budgeting tools and predictors are therefore in vogue. Employees also seek benefits for their family, wanting programs that include their spouses, children and parents is another desirable factor that makes a Financial Wellness program attractive to an employee.

2.   Benefits, not marketing products

While many organizations outsource financial wellness programs, I’ve seen scores of cases where third-party programs have acted merely as a sales channel for insurance, annuities, mutual funds, or other services from the panoply of financial products. Employees need genuine products, tailored to meet their financial goals and necessities. Firms that gain access to your employees under the guise of “financial wellness benefits” make the organization and employees vulnerable to the risk of high-fee investments. Deliver individualistic and in-depth programs to your employees instead, involving unbiased financial coaches.

3.   Low-cost Healthcare Schemes and Retirement Planning

Apart from personal financial goals, what employees have in common is the need for a health cover and retirement funds. While some employers design the payroll to ensure that a fraction of employee’s salary is dedicated to retirement or insurance, some also focus on promoting healthier employee financial behavior by conducting regular educational seminars or financial counseling.

The ongoing engagement crisis is a mnemonic for corporates to deliver individualistic and unbiased financial wellness programs. I believe that the employers have both, the responsibility and the opportunity with new financial products to give what it takes to keep their team together, build goodwill to attract new talent and maintain healthy cash flows.

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