money

financial wellness

By Lauren Kollauf on Monday, June 17, 2019


Why it matters to workplaces

If you've ever been worried about your bank account, you're not alone. 30 percent of adults feel stressed out about money constantly, according to Propeller Insights.

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Iowa workplaces should take note of of this statistic because these financial stresses have, in turn, resulted in increases in absenteeism, tardiness and health care costs.

"There is a deep connection between financial stress and mental health," said Carlos Navarro, a marketing director within Principal Financial Group.

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Workplaces should strive to create a financial wellness program that meets employee needs to not only reduce stress-related illness among their workforce but also avoid the costs of delayed retirement.

Many employers provide online portals or a 401(K) match, but "tools alone won't do the job," Navarro said. A more holistic approach is necessary.

How to create a program that actually works

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Brad Arends, co-founder and CEO of intellicents, believes a combination of technology and personal guidance provides the best approach to employer financial wellness.

Arends presented a 5-step process to create a financial wellness program that actually works to attendees at the 2019 Healthiest State Initiative Annual Conference on May 14. 

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Here are his recommendations:

1. Set a goal

Conduct a formal assessment and then set a measurable goal for your financial wellness program. Upper management must be on-board and ready to support and invest in the program.

2. Organization

This is where technology comes into play. Employees should have access to an online portal where they can store, view and access all important financial information in one place.

3. Education

Educational tools can include the online portal, however, education should also include targeted information, workshops, a hotline and more. The key, Arends said, is tailoring the education to the needs of your employee demographics.

4. Advice

Many employers stop after Step #3. But Arends said that personalized advice — from budgeting to retirement  to full financial planning — is the "missing ingredient" in most financial wellness programs. "People want people, not tools," Arends said.

5. Benchmarking 

Employee engagement, satisfaction, behavior change and other metrics must be monitored annually and measured against goals set. "Your program may check all the boxes, but is it actually moving the dials for participants?" Arends said.

What your workplace can start doing today

While it may be overwhelming to consider implementing a new financial wellness program in your workplace, there are some simple steps you can take that will yield improvements.

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Julie Eggleston, Vice President of Human Resources Operations at Bankers Trust, shared what her company has done to improve financial wellness for their employees:

Contact your 401(k) provider to see what services they offer.

Your current vendor may have additional resources already available that your employees are not taking advantage of, including education sessions, web-based tools, 1:1 planning sessions and more.

Tailor education based on employee life stages or situations. 

Instead of generic lunch and learn sessions, is there an opportunity to tailor education to better apply to your employees' individual lives? Consider providing education sessions specific to recent graduates, young families, single parents, employees nearing retirement, etc.

Review current financial benefits and look for ways to improve.

Bankers Trust recently simplified their 401(K) match to decrease confusion and improve participation. There could be other simple changes you could implement, including a gym reimbursement, wellness program incentives or lunch and learn education sessions.

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