By Norbert “Bert” Alicea, MA, CEAP, Executive Vice President of EAP+Work/Life Services
Despite the nation’s improving economy, fear and anxiety about money is a leading stressor for today’s workers, and this stress negatively impacts both health and productivity. In fact, 7 out of 10 American workers say finances are their top cause of stress, with 80 percent reporting that it affects their productivity. Furthermore, surveys show an increase in the number of employees who say their financial woes are negatively affecting their lives and are worried about their future financial situation.
The issue is compounded because many employees lack budgeting skills and are ill-prepared to handle current financial responsibilities or future risks. For example, 68 percent of Americans have no emergency funds, let alone money left over for unexpected injuries or illness. Nearly half do not save any of their annual income. Another third have no retirement savings.
When coupled with student loan debt and other financial burdens, it is not surprising that these issues create stress. And financial stressors can change throughout the course of an employee’s life, from college debt to mortgage payments to retirement planning. Unstable finances and the resulting stress can negatively impact relationships, productivity, and mental and physical health, all while lowering profitability for employers.
Creating an Effective Program
No matter what their financial struggle, it’s important to offer employees the right online and personalized support and tools to help them learn how to manage their money, reduce debt, and save for the future, all to lower stress and increase productivity.
An effective financial wellness program includes a variety of components to engage and prepare employees to meet a spectrum of financial needs, including but not limited to:
- One-on-one consultations with financial specialists to discuss financial planning or more complex matters on a range of issues, from IRS matters to divorce financial planning. This is a great first step for overwhelmed or confused employees who prefer access to a “live” resource for help getting started with specific issues or general planning.
- In-person workshops and webinars on topics such as estate planning, managing life transitions and paying for college.
- Online calculators to determine a plan for loans, credit payoff, mortgages and taxes.
- Articles and worksheets with information on a variety of relevant financial issues such as identity theft, budgeting, investing and more.
Integrating a financial wellness program with other programs can maximize its effectiveness by raising awareness and increasing convenience, making it more likely that employees will know about and use the program.
Value of Financial Wellness in the Workplace
With access to financial wellness programs, employees are able to effectively address the issues creating their financial stress, leading to higher productivity. Further, these programs guide employees toward related benefit programs and resources, maximizing engagement in tuition reimbursement, health spending accounts and retirement plans.
Most importantly, incorporating financial wellness into workplace well-being programs can have a positive effect on employees’ physical and emotional health. By addressing one of the primary causes of stress, it’s possible to mitigate issues like high blood pressure, poor eating and more, leading to better overall health and well-being. When employees are healthier and less stressed, they can re-focus their time and energy on other matters, including work.
Contact us. We can help.
Learn more about how Health Advocate can help you develop an easily accessible financial wellness program through a single portal that guides employees to financial solutions that work for them. You benefit by having more resilient, productive workers and an improved bottom line.