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Providing Incentives for Your Employee Financial Wellness Program

Employers and Organizations

How Do Employers Integrate Financial Wellness Into Their Employee Incentive Programs?


Last Update: October 11, 2021

Financial stress is an epidemic among employees. It eats away at people’s mental and physical health.

And financial stress is directly tied to low levels of financial literacy.1 

Related article: What is the True Cause of Employee Financial Stress? [Study]

Financial stress also hurts a company’s bottom line. It causes workers to be distracted and unmotivated.2

Because of this, many companies are implementing financial wellness programs. But often, people do not want to think about finances because of the stress it causes. So, using incentives to help with financial education can increase participation rates.

Incentives are nothing new. They’ve been used in marketing for ages.

“$500 cashback when you buy this car!”

“Sign up now and get a free t-shirt!”

Towards the beginning of the 20th century, scientific studies about rewards and motivation began being used in the workplace to drive productivity.3

 In the 21st century, incentives have progressed to all aspects of life and work. Schools use them to promote learning. Advertisers use them to drive sales. And workplaces continue to use them to increase productivity and worker motivation.

As employers have learned that a happy, healthy worker is more productive, employers became incentivized to offer wellness tools to their workers. And so, workplace financial wellness programs were born.

But how can we compel workers to deal with this stressful topic?

While the hope may be that a employee's desire for financial health would be incentive enough to participate in these programs, that is not always the case.

Luckily, many companies already have incentive programs in place. The original intention of these programs may have been to drive productivity, but they can easily be integrated with a financial education program to promote worker wellness. 


Recognition is an often overlooked incentive in the workplace. 35% of employees say they would like more recognition at work.4  

Social recognition in the workplace can be hard to accomplish, especially in today’s digital world. Employers may send an email congratulating a worker for their performance. Or they may offer online social recognition.

Digital badges can be used as rewards for accomplishing a goal. These types of recognition are more formal and fun, with an aspect of gamification.

Badges work well for financial education, too. After completing an online course, a badge of accomplishment on a user’s profile serves as social recognition, creating a sense of pride and increasing interest among coworkers. One worker may get a badge that says, “I got 5 out of 5 on my budgeting quiz!” That could inspire another worker to take the same quiz. 

Points Systems 

Some companies already use points-based systems to reward things like generating leads or making sales. 

Point systems can work just as well to promote financial education and wellness. Points can be handed out for completing courses or using online tools like budget analyzers. Points can be stored up and used for everything from merchandise to gift cards or charitable giving.5

Monetary Incentives 

The age-old use of money to motivate works to this day. Obviously, these exist in every company already. They come in the form of annual bonuses or sales commissions. The prospect of being handed money motivates people to do more.

This incentive is easy to integrate into the financial education program. Small monetary rewards can be used for small tasks. But a large monetary reward can be offered as a grand prize. For example, everyone who completes ten courses in a month will be entered in a raffle for $1,000.

Companies are onboard with the need for financial wellness in their workforce. They know that financial stress decreases productivity. It also increases absenteeism and health care costs.2

Related whitepaper: Effects of Financial Literacy on Profitability

Knowing that financial education is necessary is the first step. Getting workers to participate comes next.

Using existing incentive programs is an easy way to drive motivation and increase financial wellness for employees as well as their companies.



1 - https://www.finra.org/media-center/newsreleases/2021/large-number-americans-reported-financial-anxiety-and-stress-even

2 - https://www.theexperience.work/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/pwc-2019-employee-wellness-survey.pdf

3- https://www.achievers.com/blog/todays-incentive-thinking-different/

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