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June 23, 2021

By Tracy Scott

Financial wellness initiatives that could help your employees reduce stress and remain engaged, despite their circumstances.

Companies who hope to survive tough economic times must understand that employee well-being impacts their bottom line. Financial uncertainty tends to affect both business owners and their employees, but not in the ways you might think.

Shortly before the economic crisis of 2020, a Financial Health Network survey revealed that 78% of employees with high financial stress are distracted at work. Without an engaged workforce that attracts and retains customers, a loss of productivity makes it nearly impossible to sustain a profitable business. While you might believe money matters are best left at home, the same study also found a staggering 74% of employees look to employers to provide solutions, such as financial wellness benefits.

Providing a holistic wellness program that includes financial health might be the best move you can make for your bottom line. Here are five financial wellness initiatives that could help your employees reduce stress and remain engaged, despite their circumstances.

1. Personalized financial coaching sessions

Successful financial management starts with a budget. Unless employees can identify how much money comes in and flows out of their households each month, they’ll continue to struggle with their finances. But, learning how to create a budget, knowing how much to save or invest, and understanding how today’s money decisions affect their future financial health aren’t intuitive lessons. To complicate matters, past money mistakes may require a qualified financial coach to help remedy. Personalized financial coaching sessions might help employees to create a realistic plan to deal with their current crisis while planning for the future.

2. Free online financial education

Not every employee will need one-on-one financial coaching sessions. Online video courses offer a convenient way for employees to obtain the information they need at their own pace. Reward employees for their course completion hours by recognizing them as professional development hours. Subjects might include:

Budgeting Basics

Financial stability starts with a basic budget. This course should teach employees how to create a budget, set financial goals, and revise their budget as their financial situation changes.

Debt Management

If one member of the household experiences a job loss, credit cards or loans might be the only way to pay for necessary expenses. But, without a plan to repay the debt after household income returns to normal, employees might find themselves in a debt cycle they can’t seem to escape. This course should leave the employee confident that they can tackle debt and create a better financial future for themselves and their family.

Credit Scores

An introduction to credit can help employees understand credit basics while offering practical suggestions on how to rebuild credit after a few financial missteps. Content should help employees recognize the differences between credit reports and credit scores. This course could also outline the potential consequences of carrying high account balances month-to-month.

3. Emergency savings account incentives

Money experts recommend saving at least six months of living expenses to buffer against a job loss or other financial emergency. Assist employees with this goal by setting up an Emergency Savings Employee Incentive Program. For example, for every $100 the employee deposits into a designated emergency fund savings account, the employer deposits an additional $10, up to a set amount. This can help employees build or rebuild savings quickly while keeping motivation high.

4. Student loan repayment benefits

Besides providing educational resources that can help employees decide if they should refinance student loan debt, consider offering an Employer Student Loan Repayment program. This unique benefit recognizes that many employees are entering the workforce with substantial student loan debt. Employers can set a monthly, annual, or lifetime repayment benefit maximum. For example, your benefit might provide $100 per month, or $1,000 per year, with a lifetime maximum of $8,000. These programs not only help with debt repayment but can increase employee retention.

5. Low-cost personal loans

Offer to be the go-to source of low-cost, flexible borrowing for an employee. For example, a $500 Loan Program that can be repaid via payroll might make the difference to an employee who might otherwise turn to a costly payday loan or high interest rate credit cards.