An employee financial wellness program is a group of services offered by employers to support their employees' personal financial lives. As a small business owner, you could use these to improve your employees' satisfaction and productivity at work, possibly help alleviate some of their financial stress, and support their ability to reach important future financial goals.
Here's a closer look at what an effective employee financial wellness program might entail and how to structure one that can help benefit your business and its employees in particular.
Parts of a Financial Wellness Program
The Society of Human Resources Management reports that employee financial wellness programs have become an increasingly popular form of workplace benefit. Your business can design the specific components of its financial wellness program based on your team's needs, but there are three key pieces found in most programs of this type.
1. Financial Education
The educational component of your program can involve a number of tools, including a website or blog that offers written tips or advice on financial topics your employees are interested in. It might offer online, self-paced courses that employees can access at their leisure, "lunch and learn" sessions presented by financial experts on your staff, or hosted sessions facilitated by financial partners on which your business already relies to manage its finances or employee benefits.
To make sure you provide employees with information they want and can use, consider customizing your program. Distribute a survey to your team asking about the financial topics they'd like to see covered, as well as which formats they'd consider most useful and accessible.
You can also continually tailor your educational programs to seasonality and/or the life events your employees are likely to experience. In the spring, a popular season for home-buying, employees may want to know more about the mortgage process. In the fall, parents may be helping their high school children prepare to attend college, meaning they may benefit from education on student loans.
Before open enrollment, employees may also appreciate financial programs that address how to take advantage of tools like a health savings account to better manage the costs of health care.
2. Financial Assistance
Even if you're not yet able to give all of your employees raises or bonuses, you might support their financial lives with assistance programs that may make it easier for them to take action toward their financial goals.
Consider partnering with financial institutions to offer affordable products making it easy to set up recurring contributions to linked savings or investment accounts. Or you might consider providing voluntary benefits that connect employees to student loan refinancing programs.
Customizing the assistance your employee financial wellness program provides based on your employees' needs and goal is one way to help maintain a close, healthy employer-employee relationship in a small business.
3. Financial Planning
Maybe you (or your employees) believe financial planning is only for the wealthy. In reality, all employees can benefit from a professional who can help them prioritize their goals and establish a plan for working toward them.
A program that connects employees with financial planning professionals they may not otherwise seek out can help them reap the benefits of working with such experts while showing they don't have to have a certain income or net worth in order to do so.
Small Business Benefits of Employee Wellness
Employees who are stressed about finances can have a direct impact on your company's productivity, customer experience, and hiring and recruitment costs. In the 2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey from PwC, nearly half of respondents who reported financial stress spent at least three hours a week thinking about or tending to personal finances at work. Those under the most financial stress were also twice as likely to miss work.
Your business could end up paying the price of the reduced engagement that can result from financial distraction. Fortunately, a financial wellness program is meant to help employees more effectively manage such stress.
Employee financial wellness programs could be a mutual benefit to your business and your staff, and they don't have to be expensive or complex in order to provide value. Customize your plan to your employees' most pressing financial needs, and provide them with a program that can help them feel more empowered — both at work and in their personal lives.