If your company is taking its corporate wellness program seriously but neglecting to boost your employees’ financial health, you may want to rethink that strategy. Indeed, there’s a good chance your employees are stressed and worried over money.
Forty-nine percent of employees said they’re concerned, anxious or fearful about their finances in the 15th annual study from MetLife on employee benefit trends. In a different look at the subject, according to the 2017 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 53% of employees reported being stressed about money, with 46% pointing to finances as the top stressor in their life.
And that worry takes a toll. Indeed, according to the PwC survey, employees who are stressed about finances are more likely to be distracted at work thinking about their finances (48%), are more likely to miss work (16%), say financial stress has affected their health (35%) and spend at least three hours at work dealing with finances (50%) — to name just a few negative effects.
Small wonder, then, that more businesses are adding a financial well-being program to their employee wellness offerings. A 2017 survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health, in partnership with Fidelity Investments, found that 84% of large and midsize companies are offering financial wellness programs, up from 76% a year ago.
Besides the lowered productivity issue, companies are recognizing that finances impact health and are doing something about it. “Today’s programs take more of a ‘health meets wealth’ approach and reflect a blend of financial, physical and social/emotional programs to provide maximum support for members,” Adam Stavisky, senior vice president of Fidelity Benefits Consulting, said in a press release for the survey.
For years, employers have offered employees financial planning, to one degree or another. MetLife, for instance, has offered workplace financial planning programs to its employer clients for at least 20 years, said MetLife Vice President of Life and Income Funding Solutions David DeGeorge. Today, however, employers are “beginning to offer a holistic approach” to wellness that combines physical and financial programs, DeGeorge said.
So, what this means is that, rather than focus narrowly on saving for retirement, for example, a workplace financial wellness program tends to help employees with issues such as budgeting and managing debt. And with the pervasiveness of the internet, mobile apps and smartphones, more companies are focusing on delivering a positive and easy user experience to employees. “Everyone expects things to be online now,” said Sharon Reese, retirement program manager for Puget Sound Energy, which provides electricity and natural gas to customers in Washington state’s Puget Sound region. “We wouldn’t have the level of engagement we have in our financial wellness program without technology.”