February 16, 2021

How to Start a Financial Wellness Program

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Tags: HR

Along with remote work options and flexible paid time off policies, more companies are beginning to include financial wellness programs in their benefits packages. With financial distress having a direct impact on worker productivity, financial wellness programs allow employers to both relieve some of that burden and prove that they truly care about their employees. To help you improve the financial well-being of your employees, we’ve put together this guide on how to start a financial wellness program.

Table of contents

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What is a financial wellness program?

Financial wellness programs are put in place by employers to improve their employees’ financial well-being through education, counseling, or money management platforms.

Not all financial wellness programs are the same. Companies with mostly younger employees may focus their program on 401k education or budget counseling. On the other hand, those with a majority of older employees may help ensure their retirement funds are in order or provide tips to keep them from living paycheck to paycheck.

These programs not only help employees plan for their long-term goals, like retirement or family planning, but they also help reduce some of the worry associated with financial stress. In fact, financial wellness programs are generally comprehensive approaches that address employees’ long and short-term goals.

Benefits of financial wellness

According to a recent survey, only about 41 percent of Americans would be able to cover a $1,000 emergency expense with savings. However, the average financial expense is usually closer to $3,500. Not only can such an emergency be devastating financially, but it can also cause major stress, leading to larger physical and mental issues. Luckily, a financial wellness program can alleviate some of this stress.

When employees are stressed out financially, they’re less productive, their absences increase, and their health can even be adversely affected. Financial well-being provides people with peace of mind that if an emergency does happen, they’re prepared for it. The programs teach employees how to live below their means and start an emergency fund to ensure that they can cover life’s unexpected expenses.

Financial wellness keeps employees at work and helps them be more focused on their jobs. Additionally, less stress means fewer stress-related illnesses, which can help decrease employer healthcare costs. Employees who are financially well are also generally the ones who have the most pride and satisfaction in their company.

Steps to implement a financial wellness program

Financial wellness programs will look different for every company, but these steps should help you create a successful program for your employees.

1. Evaluate your employees’ needs

Take a look at your employee demographics and try to determine what your employees will need most from a financial wellness program. You may even consider sending out a survey to find out what they’d find most helpful.

2. Search for free programs and resources

There are many free programs and resources available from financial institutions and nonprofits that you can use to create a baseline for your program. You may be able to choose resources from the different programs to address the goals and concerns of your employees.

Free financial wellness program resources

3. Get leadership buy-in

If your leadership team feels this is going to benefit the organization as a whole, it should be fairly easy to get them to buy into the program. When pitching this to company leaders, make sure you highlight all the benefits of financial wellness and the problems associated with financial stress.

4. Choose your approach

Once your leadership team is on board, it’s time to choose how you’re going to approach financial wellness and start building your program. Will this be optional or mandatory for your employees? How can you address different demographics? Some HR software includes financial wellness features to make this part easier. We’ll cover a few of those in the next section.

5. Establish metrics for success

Once you’ve built your program, you need to establish metrics for how you’ll determine success. This can be difficult because you can’t exactly pry into employees’ financial decisions, but you can send out periodic surveys to check in with your employees and see if they are experiencing less financial stress. Along with feedback, you can check the number of employees who are participating in retirement programs or investing in health savings accounts.

HR software that includes financial wellness features

To make your job easier, some HR software actually includes financial wellness features and programs.

Gusto

Gusto is an online HR software that offers financial wellness features as part of its plans. With 401k retirement plans, 529 college savings, and automatic savings plans, you can help your employees reach their long-term financial goals and achieve peace of mind. Gusto also offers the Gusto Wallet app, which allows employees to borrow against their paychecks at no extra cost to them or you in case of unexpected expenses.

Also read: Zenefits vs Gusto: Choosing The Best HR Solution For Your SMB

LearnLux

LearnLux is a learning management system focused on financial literacy and well-being. It provides lessons and tools to help your employees gain a better understanding of 401k plans, learn more about homeownership, and explore the effects of credit card debt, as well as many other topics. HR teams can also use the tool’s dashboard to see how employees are engaging with the software.

Gradifi

Gradifi is a standalone financial wellness tool that helps your employees pay down debt and work towards their future goals. One interesting aspect of Gradifi is the option to offer student loan repayment as a benefit for your employees. With the average student loan debt in America at a whopping $32,731 per person, it’s no wonder employees have financial stress.

Choosing software to kickstart your program

Financial wellness programs keep your employees engaged and happy at work and show them that you care about their well-being. Employees who are financially secure are more satisfied at work, more productive, and healthier. Getting a program started can be difficult, but there are many tools and resources available to help you out.

To find the perfect HR software for your organization, use our Product Selection Tool. After answering a survey about your company’s needs, you’ll get a custom list of products that are right for you.