If employee financial wellness is not on your radar, it should be. The level of employee stress and the resulting business impact caused by this widespread issue can’t be ignored. Some studies indicate that up to 1/4 of your employee population is dealing with serious financial issues.
In fact, Financial Finesse\’s most recent research on the trends of employee financial issues indicated that nearly 21 percent of employees reported “high” or “overwhelming” levels of financial stress. With financial problems being cited as one of the leading causes of stress in America, today\’s workplace is greatly affected by employees who are experiencing financial problems.
The hidden victims
One issue that many don’t realize is that this affects people like our military pretty heavily. Having recurring or serious financial difficulties makes it more difficult for soldiers to maintain a security clearance (financial problems make you a target for foreign government intelligence). In fact, soldiers can be declared unfit for duty if they are unable to resolve the financial issues they have. Imagine losing your job due to a few poor financial mistakes, and you realize how serious this is.
What you can do about it
If your company has the money and wants to spend it, Financial Peace @ Work is a great program and I’ve heard good things about it (if you’ve been involved with a program where you work, please comment below!). My wife and I attended a Financial Peace class at our church last year and had a great time learning and working together towards financial wellness. That shared bond of going through a tough struggle together is one that ties people (and organizations) together for the long term. The unique aspect of this program is that it’s not tied to buying financial products or a sleazy sales pitch. It’s purely educational and will definitely change how your people think about money.
If you don’t have the money or don’t want to spend it, there’s nothing wrong with a homegrown employee financial wellness program. It should cover the basics: budgeting, insurance, eliminating debt, giving, saving, spending wisely, investing for retirement/college, etc. Talk with your 401(k) provider if you have one. They might be willing to send someone over to talk through some of these topics; just remember to tell them not to use it as a platform for a sales pitch. If you’re the HR person and you’d like to run the classes, I can point you to some resources that will help you get started, just let me know.
Note: if there is enough interest, I might be willing to shoot a handful of short videos discussing some of the above topics with a free license to share, use, etc. That would save you some $ and help get your people educated and less stressed. Just thinking out loud here…
How to get people interested
A few ideas:
- Offer the training once a week during a lunch hour to save some money and help people keep from having to stay after work to take the course.
- One company I have heard of offered to pay for half of the class time if attendees came to 80% or more of the meetings, so that could be a great incentive to get people not only to come once, but to keep coming back.
- Get the company to pick up some cookies to share. Everyone likes cookies. :-)
- Have a debt payoff challenge (due to different salaries it shouldn’t be a contest with a clear winner, rather a chance for everyone to rally together to support each other).
- Offer a couponing or frugal living class where people share their tips. Or you can get an employee’s spouse to come in if their main job is being the “home economist” at their house.
- Set a company target for debt elimination and have an ice cream party when you reach your goal.
- Get people talking about carpooling, flexible work schedules, and other ways of saving on work related costs (commuting, etc.)
Free tools to share with employees
Last but not least, you can share a few free tools with your people to help them get a handle on their money.
- Mint.com-free, easy tool that helps to show all of your financial information in one dashboard. Think Quicken but online and free (it’s developed by Intuit, the maker of Quickbooks business software)
- AnnualCreditReport.com-free way to get your credit reports from the major reporting agencies once a year; don’t sign up for any recurring fees or plans, just get the basic reports
- MoneyChimp-This site has quite a few great calculators to help you see your financial future: 401k calculator, debt payoff calculator, etc.
So that’s my take (more or less) on employee financial wellness. Anyone else out there have their eye on this issue?