Dozens of studies over the last five years show that financial stress among American workers is high, impacting productivity, health, relationships and more.
One of the most recent surveys shows that 80 percent of the workers interviewed had at least slight financial stress, with nearly a quarter feeling very or extremely stressed.1
Employers who understand how such stress affects the bottom line have begun offering financial wellness programs to their employees as part of the benefits package. A 2019 PWC survey2 shows that employees are responding, with 71 percent of employees using an employer-sponsored financial wellness program if it is offered.
In addition to preparing for retirement (47 percent), employees used the financial wellness program to help with:
- Get spending under control - 29 percent
- Pay off debt - 29 percent
- Save for major goals - 29 percent
- Better manage investments/asset allocation - 29 percent
- Better manage healthcare expenses/save for future healthcare expenses - 18 percent
However, even with these numbers, many companies find that their employees do not use their financial wellness program or do not use it consistently. If this is happening within your business, here are six things to consider.
1. Your Plan Doesn’t Offer What Your Employees Want
For a financial wellness program initiative to be successful, it must offer what employees want in such a program. Unfortunately, many employers assume that all programs have the same effect and don’t worry about specific employee needs.
This often leads to low financial wellness program participation. In fact, the Financial Education for Today’s Workforce survey found that the best predictor of a successful program was whether it began with a needs assessment.3
A needs assessment contains questions that help you know:
- What your employees want
- What your employees need
- When they need it
- How they prefer to receive it
With these answers, you can find a program that will be beneficial to your unique set of employees. For more information on developing an effective needs assessment, read:
- How to Create an Employee Financial Wellness Survey
- How to Survey Your Employees for Your Financial Wellness Program
- Will Our Employees Use a Financial Wellness Program if We Offer One?
2. You Haven’t Communicated the Existence of the Plan
To the shock of many HR departments, one survey found that almost one-third of employees couldn’t say whether their company offered a financial wellness plan.4 If an employee doesn’t know about the plan, they aren’t going to be able to use it.
It is important to consistently promote your plan so that employees will know they have resources when they have financial questions or concerns. Companies with successful financial wellness programs have found that employees are more aware of the program when that information is consistently added into current communications such as newsletters.
Creating company messages rather than using vendor-produced messages helps employees understand that the program is not just advertising for outside financial products.
Personalized communications, such as emails, work better than an email that starts out with “Dear Employees.”
The more consistent you are, the more successful you will be. For more information on developing a successful benefits promotion strategy, read:
- 5 Strategies to Help Increase Financial Wellness Program Participation
- Consistent Messaging Strategies for a Successful Financial Wellness Program
- Financial Wellness Program Best Practices Guide
3. You Are Not Offering Incentives to Use the Plan
When starting a new behavior, most people do not have the internal motivation to get started because they don’t understand the benefits they will get from doing so. Incentives often help break past this barrier and can get your employees to act.
Enrich studied a 52,000 employee company and found that by offering $250 to an employee’s HSA account for participating in specific financial wellness requirements, employees:
- Increased the number of sessions activated each month
- Increased the page views per month
- Increased the average time per session
Incentives can either be benefits-based or outcomes-based. Benefits-based incentives are those that go to employees who complete specified tasks. This can include such things as money for enrollment, completing a number of requirements, creating an action plan, or completing a class. Additionally, you can consider adding flex benefit credits, bonuses, or merit pay increases.
Outcomes-based incentives provide rewards for your employees who increase healthy financial behaviors. Points can be given for starting a savings account, adding to a 401(k), increasing a credit score, or putting a specific percentage into a 401(k). Employees can then redeem their points for prizes.
For more information and examples of successfully incorporating incentives into your financial wellness program check out:
- Providing Incentives for Your Employee Financial Wellness Program
- Financial Wellness Case Study Compilation
4. Your Employees Do Not Have an Immediate Need
The 2019 PWC survey2 asked employees when they most often looked for financial information. For most people, it is only when a need arises.
- When making important financial decisions – 35 percent
- When in a financial crisis – 26 percent
- During a major life event – 10 percent
- On an ongoing basis – 3 percent
- The other 26 percent have other reasons or do not seek out financial help
To be sure that your employees use your financial wellness program when they feel the need, be sure that your program is flexible and individualized.
5. There is No Gamification
People enjoy playing games, so adding gamification to your financial wellness program can motivate employees to participate. One study found that consumers say they pay more attention to activities when they are more like games.5 Plus, actual participation increases by 100 percent or more with gamification.
Not only is there more participation with gamification, but there is also more learning. A study by the University of Colorado shows that those learning new things with games gain more skills (+14 percent), knowledge (+11 percent), and retention (+9 percent) than they do without games.6
Gamification can include challenges, badges, certificates, points, leaderboards and more.
6. Your Program Has No Compelling Components
In addition to gamification, employees want to see a financial wellness program that is compelling to use. No one wants to sit through boring lectures on financial health, so make sure your program contains a variety of components that engage your employees. Enrich offers several components that encourage employee use.
Since personality influences financial decision-making, we have created a financial wellness assessment that determines a money personality and then recommends changes based on that personality. Each employee will learn their money personality and dominant traits, as well as their financial strengths and challenges.
Interactive Budgeting Tool
Our interactive budgeting tool can help your employees determine how they are spending their money, as well what changing these spending habits will do to their savings as they make budgeting goals. The final budget can be saved and adjusted across time.
Student Loan Tool
No matter their age, student loan debt is hitting your employees where it hurts – in the wallet. Our Student Loan Snapshot Tool can help employees determine the best way to repay these loans.
Social or Peer-to-Peer Tools
Your employees are just as likely to trust peers (26 percent) as they are financial counselors (25 percent), according to the PWC survey.2 Based on our data, employees who use the peer-to-peer tool use the program more (+400 percent), use more program content (+800 percent), and score higher on assessments (+3 to 6 percent).
A quarter of surveyed employees want access to unbiased counselors.2 Enrich offers a team of independent Certified Personal Finance Counselors.
Following these guidelines can help you see an improvement in your financial wellness program’s participation rate.
To learn more about how the Enrich Financial Wellness Program can help your organization, request a demo here or use the button below to watch our demo video.