The Importance of Financial Wellness to a Holistic Well-Being Benefits Program
By Elise Thorpe, Principal at Lovitt & Touché, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company
Elise was featured on an episode of our web series "Navigating the New Normal" to discuss this piece. Click here to video on YouTube.
Although an underlying concern for many prior to COVID-19, financial well-being has become the critical stress point for a majority of employees following job losses, reduced hours and other economic shocks as a result of the pandemic.
Financial stress is top of mind for 64% of employees, according to Best Money Moves, with 20% thinking about their financial stress every day while working and 60% at least once a week, which has a direct impact on job performance, overall productivity and an organization’s bottom line. In other words, the financial stress crisis also has a direct effect on employers and businesses, meaning it is critical for organizations to incorporate or enhance financial benefits programs to meet the needs of their increasingly stressed-out employees.
Financial Wellness In Demand
With financial wellness top of mind, employees are eager for benefits programs that can help alleviate their money anxieties. BenefitsPro reported that financial wellness tops the list as a most-wanted benefit program in 2021. Additionally, MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends 2020 report found that 52% of employees are more concerned about their financial health in the wake of the pandemic than they are about their physical, mental and social health. Keep in mind, however, that all these components are interdependent, with employees experiencing financial stress also rating their mental, social and physical health significantly lower than average.
As a result, more employers are beginning to recognize the importance of a holistic well-being program that focuses on not only physical, emotional and social health but financial well-being, as well.
How to Support Employees’ Financial Health
There are a number of ways employers can support financial health for employees including:
• Review your current benefit offerings to ensure you are meeting the needs of your employees so they can feel financially secure (e.g., life insurance, short-term and long-term disability).
• Provide supplemental products that fill the gap for financial protection such as hospital indemnity and critical illness, especially if you offer a high deductible health plan.
• Evaluate the need for student load debt assistance and how you can help.
• Offer child and elder care support resources, as this employee stressor will continue until workplaces and schools reopen safely.
• Include an employer-sponsored savings plan in your benefit package to encourage employees to save for emergency or rainy-day expenses.
• Provide access to online financial education resources such as budgeting and debt management tools, retirement calculators and a library on various financial topics.
• Offer access to financial coaches or advisors for personal guidance as everyone’s situation is different.
• Include educational workshops on various financial topics such as budgeting, saving for emergencies, planning for retirement, understanding the stock market and various fund types.
• Enhance and increase communications on all available resources to improve awareness and utilization.
Although there are many options to pursue, it’s important for employers to evaluate the needs of their specific employee demographics and customize a program to meet their needs. Based on today’s multi-generational workforces, programs should appeal to a broad cross-section of the employee base – targeting multiple ages, income levels, education levels and lifestyles. This approach will have a greater impact and will be more meaningful to more employees.
As financial wellness tops the list of desired programs for employees, it’s critical that employers include it in their benefits to provide a more holistic approach. The interdependency of financial health on physical, emotional and social health is not one to forget. By reducing financial stress and anxiety for employees, employers will see a crossover effect of improving health and emotional wellness — all of which positively impact engagement, productivity and morale.