Wellness programs should include the whole person. In addition to physical health, wellness programs should include mental health, stress reduction, and work life balance, among other things.
One key issue affecting American workers today is financial stress. The Federal Reserve's Economic Well Being Report shows that 4 in 10 adults could not cover an unexpected $400 expense. Many households are one near-term crisis away from financial struggle. A broken down vehicle or damaged boiler could be the breaking point. And the stress from financial woes has impact on workplace performance.
According to Price Water House Cooper "employees who are stressed about their finances are nearly five times more likely to be distracted by their finances at work, twice as likely to spend three hours or more at work dealing with financial matters...Stressed employees are also twice as likely to miss work on account of their personal financial issues and are more inclined to cite health issues caused by financial stress."
The Price Water House Cooper Survey further shows:
Nearly 50% of employees report finances have been a distraction at work.
28% of employees say financial worries have had an impact on their physical health.
According to a study by Merill Lynch and Bank of America, millennials are particularly worried with 60% of them reporting spending three or more work hours on personal financial matters.
Lost productivity and absenteeism add up to lost revenue for employers. And drive up the costs of your employer sponsored health plan.
By bringing financial well-being into the workplace wellness conversation we can bring that lost time and revenue back into the business and ease employee worries at the same time.
You might not realize that employees actually want employers to offer financial support programs. The Merill Lynch study shows 72% of those stressed about finances say they would use a financial coach offered through a financial wellness program. Further, many employees, particularly millennials, feel they have not had adequate financial education.
It is not enough to talk about retirement savings and programs you offer like 401k's. We need to provide real time education with strategies for things like building a safety net and planning for big expenses. We also need more education around the ruinous side of living on credit and the importance of scheduling to pay off debt. It is about more than increasing financial literacy; it is about building actionable plans.
While information on garnished wages or hardship withdrawals from a 401k might indicate financial troubles, employers should err on the side of caution and in no way pursue information that would violate the employee's privacy. Instead we suggest that you offer an overarching program with resources to your employees. Given the data it is safe to assume that at least some of your employee population is currently dealing with financial stress.
The Society For Human Resource Management 2018 Employee Benefits survey shows that "financial fitness initiatives" are growing in popularity. And good news for those jumping on the bandwagon, both employees and employers express higher satisfaction with their overall benefits program when it includes a financial component according to Prudential Financial's May 2018 report.
Make the connection between finances and health for your employees. We can help you bring that conversation into your wellness program.