Employees are your number one assets. That’s why so many HR leaders prioritize taking care of their workforce above all else. But as the world changes, as it has in recent years, companies need to be dynamic and constantly re-evaluate their employees' needs. We recently hosted a session at HR Transform to discuss why financial wellness is becoming increasingly important for employees and what organizations are doing to address these changing priorities. Our panelists included:
- Matt Watson, CEO and Co-Founder of Origin (moderator)
- Emily Duff, Manager, Global Benefits at Udemy
- Cory Rose, Senior Director of People Operations at Chime
Below are the top takeaways from the session when it comes to setting your employees up for financial success.
1. Remember that financial wellness has a ripple effect
It’s essential to recognize that financial wellness doesn’t just impact an employee’s bank account—it has profound effects on their physical and mental health as well. In fact, studies find that high levels of financial stress manifest through physical symptoms like sleep loss, anxiety, compromised immune systems, and depression, among other side effects.
This connection is something more companies are recognizing, including the team at Udemy. “We knew employees were going through hard times, between adapting to remote work and worrying about the economy. What we quickly realized is that financial stressors are a huge contributing factor to mental wellbeing, so we decided to couple our mental health benefits with a financial wellness offering as well,” explains Duff.
2. Outsource financial expertise
With the pandemic introducing so many changes to the work environment, employees understandably have many questions: Which states do I owe taxes to? Is my equity worth anything right now? How do I change my withholdings? Unfortunately, as Rose explains, these are areas where HR leaders aren’t legally qualified or allowed to share advice.
“Myself, like all good HR folks, are saying: ‘we can’t advise you on anything tax-related. Please talk to your personal tax advisor.’ But the problem is that most people don't have a personal tax advisor.”
That’s where a benefit like Origin, which offers employees one-on-one access to financial professionals, can make a huge difference. And it’s one that Rose has seen first-hand with her own employees at Chime. “Being able to give your employees access to somebody that can set them on that path to financial wellness is incredibly valuable.”
3. Be proactive, not reactive
Your employees don’t think twice about going in for an annual checkup to maintain their physical health. But when it comes to their financial health, people tend to be more reactive. This is a mindset shift that leaders like Duff are trying to encourage in their workers.
“You don't have to wait until you have X amount in debt, or before you are expecting a child, or in the process of looking for a home. You can do some of these things more as a preventive measure for yourself. That’s why I like how Origin connects to things that happen throughout the calendar year and the employee life cycle—whether that’s getting set up for success as a new hire with their 401k plan or planning for tax season.”
4. Measure the ROI of your financial wellness efforts
Part of setting your employees up for financial success is to make sure the benefits you offer actually work. There are a few ways to measure the effectiveness of your offerings, according to Duff. Her team at Udemy has quarterly and semi-annual utilization review meetings to gauge how frequently their benefits are being used. In general, 30% utilization is a good benchmark. You can also collect employee feedback, whether informally through a Slack channel or more formally through benefit surveys.
Another measurement method is to look at how your financial wellness benefit is affecting your other offerings. For instance, Duff noticed that their average 401K enrollment rate increased from 8% to 14%—even though they weren’t doing anything new to incentivize enrollments. Eventually, they realized that this uptick overlapped with the introduction of Origin, explaining the increased interest in 401K accounts.
“We have more people enrolling in Origin, whether they actually need something or are just curious about it and want to connect with a financial professional. And that CFP® is telling them more about their 401k plan, the different fund lineups, and contribution strategies,” says Duff.
Remember that your employees are what keep your company going. So you want to make sure they have what they need to succeed in every aspect of their lives—from their mental health to their financial wellness. A huge thanks to Udemy and Chime for joining us in this panel discussion. If you want to watch the full panel discussion from HR Transform, you can access the video here.