|As a new year begins, many of your employees are thinking about life goals. That makes January’s Financial Wellness Month a great time to introduce them to the concept of behavior change as the way to take control of their money. Real change can’t be sustained by a list of goals, no matter how well planned. Only a holistic approach that addresses all your employees’ financial concerns, from basic budgeting to retirement planning, can do that.|
Financial Stress Is Bad for Business
You might think the private struggles of your workers don’t affect you, but they are definitely affecting your business. New research from Prudential and Actuarial Advisory Services shows nearly a quarter of workers are distracted at work by personal finance issues.
By any standard, most of your employees are broke—52% have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, 68% don’t follow a monthly budget, and nearly half have more credit card debt than savings. Those numbers mean stress—the kind that can substantially lower productivity, harm employee retention, and cut into 401(k) contribution rates. Money stress also leads to an uptick in retirement plan loans and hardship withdrawals, depleting the effectiveness of the company match you provide as a benefit.
Another stressor facing both you and those you employ is the reality of rising health care costs. Many employers have been forced to raise the deductibles on the health care plans they offer—shifting more of the responsibility for these costs to their workers. But many workers remain unprepared to handle these expenses. Even with medical insurance coverage in place, most full-time U.S. employees and their families wouldn’t be able to meet the out-of-pocket expenses arising from an accident or critical illness. As this trend continues, a step-by-step plan to help your employees gain stable financial footing is even more imperative.
A Holistic Approach Can Bring Lasting Change
Though most of your employees would love to do more to invest in their future, debt payments and a lack of emergency savings make the idea of retirement planning seem like an unreachable ideal. The good news is that personal finance is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge. That means there are proactive steps your employees can take to start moving in a better direction with their money—and you can help!
Consider adding a financial wellness program to your benefits menu—but don’t settle for run-of-the-mill programs that ignore your employees’ current financial struggles. Look for a program that will encourage positive behavior change among your workers. You want a program that: Offers frequent and regular opportunities to measure financial progress. That’s most easily done by defining clear, workable steps your employees can take as they tackle financial problems. Encourages your workers to set financial goals. This is a great conversation starter, but keep in mind that without an understanding of the necessary steps for true behavior change, high-flying resolutions can fall flat. Makes the material available online. Most workers prefer the privacy and flexibility of Internet platforms. Offers videos covering topics such as insurance, debt and budgeting. This is another great way to tailor financial wellness benefits to individuals who may be at different levels of financial fitness. Your company needs a financial wellness program that takes a holistic approach to retirement education and produces lasting behavior change. Such a program would help your employees leave debt behind, stick to a budget, and start making headway toward a solid financial standing. Make Financial Wellness Month the first of many months your company focuses on smart money practices.