Financial wellness programs are becoming mainstream among employers in many industries, especially as more studies are showing the impact of financial stress on worker productivity, health, and absenteeism.
According to the 2019 PWC Employee Financial Wellness Survey1, financial concerns are the top cause of stress among employees and cover a multitude of issues from savings to debt to retirement. And employees are looking for help.
The MetLife 16th Annual Benefit Trends Study2 revealed that 84 percent of employees want financial wellness programs as part of their benefits package. In fact, the PWC survey shows that 71 percent of people employed by companies that offer financial wellness use the program to prepare for retirement, get spending under control, pay off debt, save for major goals and better manage expenses, among other issues.
The survey also confirmed what many of us already know: financially stressed employees often bring that stress to the job.
- 35 percent of respondents said they are distracted at work
- 49 percent spend time on financial issues while at work
- 21 percent said they are less productive at work due to financial stress
This lost productivity costs employers an average of $8,875 per employee per year3.
Ten percent of survey respondents said that they have missed work due to financial stress/issues.
By offering a financial wellness program, employers not only help employees feel less stressed but also more focused and productive. However, not all employee financial wellness programs are created equal. Finding the best fit for your employees is up to you.
Conducting a Financial Wellness Survey
In order to find the right program, you need to understand what your employees need and want, as well as when they most want the information. Financial wellness is not one-size-fits-all. To find the right flexible, individualized financial wellness program, employers should conduct a financial wellness survey.
Objective and Subjective Questions
Creating the right assessment is crucial for getting the answers you need. Best practices for such assessments include asking both objective and subjective questions, as well as “get to know your needs better” questions.
Objective questions include those that have specific numbers or clearly defined yes and no answers. For instance, you can ask about an employee’s debt level and provide a range of responses. The employee checks the box with the right range of debt. Or you could ask a question about whether they create and follow a budget each year. The employee either does or does not and marks the appropriate answer.
Subjective measures include fewer concrete measures and ask more about feelings. You could ask how they feel about savings, with a range of answers. The employee determines how they feel about this topic and chooses the appropriate answer.
The “get to know your needs better” questions are aimed to help you determine what the employee wants from you as the employer. For instance, you can ask how financially stressed they feel with a scale from no stress to highly stressed. Or, you might ask how they would prefer to have their information delivered, giving them the option to choose their top five delivery methods from a list.
Finally, you should include at least one open-ended question. This gives employees the chance to state something that you may not have thought to ask. If the answers to this question begin to show a pattern, such as the need for identity theft education, then you have found something your employees want.
The Top Five Questions to Ask
Enrich, along with our partner Wellable, recently researched to find the best questions for a nationwide survey. Based on this research, we believe that the following five questions should always be included in any financial wellness survey:
1- How do you feel about your finances?
- Financially unwell/Completely stressed
- Somewhat financially unwell
- Somewhat financially well
- Financially well/No stress
2- Which of the following would motivate you to engage with a financial wellness program? (choose top five)
- Ability to access program on a smartphone
- Ability to share resources with family members
- Ability to track progress
- Ability to compete with peers
- Fun challenges – like a monthly challenge
- Financial incentives – cash or cash equivalents
- Email/text message reminders to participate
- Interactive content and gamification
- Non-monetary incentives (e.g., points, badges, recognition)
- Paid time off
- Personalized information, strategies, and recommendations
- Providing clear roadmaps for achieving financial goals
- Recommendation from peers
3- Which media formats do you prefer to receive financial wellness communications and content? (choose top three)
- In-person group sessions
- In-person individual sessions
- Individual telephonic sessions
- Mobile apps
- Online group sessions
- Online individual sessions
- Paper-based materials or worksheets
- Text messages
4- Choose the top five financial wellness benefits you would most likely participate in, if they were offered by your employer.
- 401k matching
- Company-sponsored emergency funds, loans, or accrued wage advances
- Consolidation/refinancing services (non-student loans)
- Credit score access & identity theft protection
- Debt management services (e.g., negotiated debt repayment)
- Employee discount programs
- Flexible work arrangements
- Generalized financial literacy training (Webinars/Seminars/Videos/Articles)
- Health Saving Accounts (HSA) contributions or matching
- Online financial management tools (e.g., budgeting tools, calculators, etc.)
- Paid family/eldercare leave
- Personalized financial counseling/financial planning with certified coaches
- Personalized financial literacy training (interactive online tools, courses/ roadmaps for success)
- Student loan debt consolidation/refinancing services
- Student loan repayment subsidies (employer-paid)
- Tuition reimbursement
5- What are your top 3 financial concerns?
- Not having enough emergency savings for unexpected expenses
- Not being able to retire when I want to
- Not being able to meet monthly expenses
- Not being able to keep up with my debts
- Being laid off from work
- Losing my home
- Not being able to pay for college
With the data you’ve collected, it is time to determine what financial wellness benefits you will offer to your employees. You now have the power to address their financial concerns with a program that caters to these needs and increases employee financial health.