Financial Wellness: The Employee Well-Being Benefit That Keeps Giving

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Financial wellness programs are gaining in popularity. A 2017 survey from the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments found that 84 percent of large and mid-sized companies have financial wellness programs. The previous year, just 76 percent of companies offered this employee well-being benefit.

Why the jump? Because financial wellness programs are actually more than just a benefit: They’re a business strategy.

The impact financial stress has on productivity is staggering. Even. Gen Z-ers are distracted by it. My company, LifeWorks, conducted a survey and found that 71 percent of Gen. Z employees say they’re “moderately” to “very” stressed about finances. This chronic stress diminishes employee productivity and, in turn, causes negative business outcomes.

Financial wellness programs are no longer merely a perk — they’re an investment in boosting employee well-being and performance for the long term.

These are the areas positively impacted by financial wellness programs:

Physical Wellness

Financial stress affects the physical body in a number of ways. Your nervous system releases hormones because your body perceives a threat. This is especially harmful if stress is chronic and poorly managed. Stress leads to symptoms like headaches, low energy, stomach issues, loss of sex drive, chest pain, and muscle tension. When employees are better equipped to manage their financial health, they’re less likely to experience these health risks.

Promote wellness initiatives that blend physical and financial aspects. For example, offer stress management classes that integrate money management as well. This way, employees see the relationship between their spending habits and stress levels. Awareness is the first step in making positive changes to financial habits.

Mental Well-Being

This aspect of employee well-being is complex because financial health and mental health have a complex relationship. Worries about money and debt fuel anxiety and depression. These conditions in turn impact spending habits. People tend to spend money to reduce stress, adding to their debt problems. The more debt, the more stress, and the cycle continues.

The solution? Build a supportive culture and continue to educate your staff.

A 2015 survey from the American Psychological Association found that emotional support plays a significant role in managing mental health conditions associated with monetary stress. Those who don’t have emotional support have higher stress levels. Plus, they’re less likely to make lifestyle changes because of stress than those who feel emotionally supported.

Encourage employees to attend open discussions with mental health counselors who specialize in helping people overcome debt and bankruptcy. They can speak on specific topics, like gambling or emotional spending, and teach employees healthy coping skills.

Employee Performance

Employee well-being goes hand in hand with performance. Our survey found that 40 percent of Gen. Z-ers feel distracted by financial matters while in the workplace. What’s more, nearly two out of 10 say their financial stress hurts their health, causing them to miss work.

When your staff is better equipped to manage their spending and financial wellness daily, they’re better employees.

Encourage accountability by hosting employee resource groups for those who share similar financial goals. Meet weekly to help employees stay on task with their spending habits. This leads to reduced financial stress and better performance.

Skill Development

Managing your personal finances actually helps you build skills that can help you progress in your career. Establishing and following a budget builds willpower and organizational skills. Saving consistently teaches you resilience and dedication, and working with your spouse to manage money makes you a much better collaborator.

Showing employees how financial wellness impacts their professional development is a great way to boost participation in your program. Conduct awareness campaigns for specific money management topics, such as investing, budgeting, and saving for specific life events. Highlight the skills being learned in each campaign. Not only will employees become more money-savvy, but they will also learn important skills to apply to their careers.

Employee well-being benefits like financial wellness programs are becoming standard. Don’t miss out on the competitive edge you earn with a happy, healthy staff.

Kayla Lutz is a regional sales manager at LifeWorks. Follow LifeWorks on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

By Kayla Lutz