Our personal and professional lives do not exist in their own tidy siloes away from one another, especially when it comes to our finances and financial well being. Money-related stress and difficulty follows us to work, and the resulting exhaustion, anxiety, and health issues can take a serious toll on our performance and productivity.
On the other hand, when our financial issues are addressed effectively and individuals are empowered to take control of their money, we are better able to show up for work and do our jobs well while we’re there.
This reality makes a convincing argument for the pursuit of workplace financial wellness, which employers are in a unique place to support if they’re willing to take the plunge.
What is financial wellness in the workplace?
On an individual level, financial wellness simply means security, stability, and a sense of control and choice over one’s finances and financial future. The concept of financial wellness includes a positive income/debt ratio, the ability to comfortably meet both the expenses of the day-to-day as well as emergencies, and, holistically, the lack of stress, strain, or anxiety relating to money.
Scaled to the workplace, financial wellness means these experiences and states of being are common to the majority of the workforce – typically as a result of intentional support and resource provision on the part of the organization.
The importance of financial wellness in the workplace
Especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial stress continues to be a driving cause of mental health struggles including anxiety and depression. Research from SHRM showed that in 2021, nearly one-third of Americans experienced finance-induced anxiety, while 19% reported developing depression because of their monetary worry. Another study from John Hancock revealed that 34% of workers surveyed admitted to spending on-the-clock hours attempting to address their personal finances.
Financial stress takes a significant toll on productivity and engagement within the workplace because of these and other problems. And workers want help addressing these issues – the same SHRM report lists retirement, safety net insurance, and educational benefits as the most desired advantages which job seekers look for in an employer.
However as of 2021, just 26% of organizations have expanded their financial support offerings to include these competitive benefits. Given the positive impact which financial wellness programming can have on productivity, retention, and attendance, it is in the organization’s best interest – not to mention that of their employees – to cultivate a monetarily healthy workforce.
Activities that can help drive financial wellness
Building financial wellness may take time, and largely depends on the individual circumstances and goals of the individual. However there are a few universal activities which, regardless of where one starts, can lead to anyone’s ideal financial future. Let’s take a look.
- Setting objectives. Defining financial goals is the very first step anyone should take in their financial wellness journey. This gives us a flag post of what we’re aiming for, and also helps to define the steps we need to take along the way.
Of course it is important to set realistic, achievable goals, however it can be greatly motivating to dream big and think audaciously about our money. So, alongside the pragmatic objectives, it can be useful to imagine a future in which we are absolutely free of debt, retired, and living on a yacht in the Bahamas three months out of the year.
- Budgeting. Setting a budget can be a little painful at first but it’s critical to establishing a supportive baseline that will allow us to pay off debt and save while also meeting our day-to-day expenses. And if we budget really well, we might find that we have more financial flexibility than we originally thought.
- Saving for retirement. Saving for retirement or saving in general is great for giving us a distant objective to aim for so we can make smarter spending decisions in the present. Having a nest-egg tucked away for our golden years also helps to alleviate financial stress as we can be comfortable in the knowledge that there is a cushion to land on when we’re finally done working.
- Addressing debt. Debt is a significant contributor to financial stress in the modern context, and something which keeps us from being fully in choice regarding how we use our money. Getting out of debt can sometimes be a lengthy undertaking, but establishing a plan to pay off/eliminate our debts can be hugely motivating and help us to see the vibrant light at the end of the tunnel.
How employers can drive financial wellness for employees
Cultivating financial wellness for your employee base goes beyond simply establishing benefits and hoping your workers will engage. Your organization’s financial wellness strategy needs to include a combination of resources, education, and peripheral benefits in order to be effective. Here are a few steps you can take.
- Perform an assessment. First you need to establish what financial wellness means to your workforce, and what resources and support they need to get to get there. Your organization should therefore start by surveying your employee base to get a sense of the current financial state of your employees, and what they feel they need to achieve monetary wellbeing.
- Offer strategic benefits. Based on the results from your survey, you will now incorporate or expand benefits which would serve to drive financial wellness within your organization. This might include debt relief programs, better health care, financial education courses, tuition reimbursement, and more. All benefits you invest in should be relevant and supportive to your workers.
- Educate your employees. This means two things: one, educate your employees on how to better manage their finances. This means setting up courses and other programming which will support better budgeting, spending habits, saving habits, and more.
Two: orient your employees to the financial benefits you offer and ensure that they understand how, when, and where these benefits can be accessed. Better engagement with your financial benefits means a more advantageous ROI and a more financially healthy workforce.
- Implement cost-of-living adjustments. It is difficult for your employees to achieve financial wellness if they’re living hand-to-mouth out of necessity. To ensure the competitiveness of your organization and empower your workers to seek better financial futures, keep an eye on cost-of-living in your locale(s) and make sure the salaries you offer measure up.
- Give personalized support. You can offer broad benefits that target a wide range of financial need and circumstance, but within that your employees should be able to access financial advice and resourcing that addresses their specific situation.
Origin is a comprehensive financial wellness platform that allows you to do both. This accessible platform offers a range of supportive tooling, educational resources, and benefits dashboards which individuals can access to understand and manage their finances within the context of your organization. Origin’s financial advisors offer in-depth and completely personalized advice and support to your employees as well, giving them their best grasp on personal finances.
The impact which a financially healthy employee base can have on your organization is beyond value. Origin can help make that happen, for every individual employee. Sign up for a free demo to see how.