When it comes to Workplace Financial Wellness, one of the first questions asked by Benefits Administrators is, “How do I incorporate this type of benefit into my overall wellness plan?”
Many HR and benefits practitioners struggle with this dilemma and rightfully so. If you ask even the most seasoned financial experts, they’ll agree - there isn’t just one strategy for incorporating financial education. However, there are best practices and crucial steps for setting yourself up for success. Here are 5 steps for integrating financial education into your benefits program:
- Identify providers who can help provide financial education resources
There are most likely benefits providers you can work with or are already working with that can do the heavy lifting for you. Seek to identify who these professionals are in your arsenal of wellness benefits. Service providers such as Credit Unions, Retirement Plan Administrators and financial advisors can help with education, advice and coaching. There are even more specialized services such as debt counseling, financial coaching and loan assistance businesses that provide valuable resources for employees. Ensure that all companies have been properly vetted by your benefits consultant or internal management, and be sure to understand the difference between regulated and non-regulated service providers. Keep in mind that more than one provider may offer a similar service. This is not always a bad thing! It’s helpful to provide employees with more options so that they can self-select the provider that they feel is right for their needs.
- Identify financial wellness topics and how to deliver these topics
Once you’ve identified providers who can offer financial education and resources, create a list and categorize by specialty. Here is one use case: Company X would like to offer a financial wellness program. They already offer a retirement plan for their employees, but they see low participation and low retirement readiness scores. What can they do to create a more holistic financial wellness program to encourage healthier financial habits and improve overall financial wellness? Company X creates a game plan by first reaching out to their Retirement Plan Provider to ask that they provide employees with education on retirement and investment topics - not just retirement plan information. Company X then reaches out to their employees’ Credit Union. The Credit Union strategically fills in the gap with financial education around other topics like budgeting, debt reduction, behavioral finance and more. Finally, Company X remembers they have a debt counseling service and clinical professionals who specialize in money and finances in their EAP who they can add to this program. Company X decides to internally brand their program “Wellbeing with Money.” They begin to offer financial education seminars, live and on-demand webinars, self-paced curriculum, financial challenges and measurement tools.
- Identify platforms in which to add financial curriculum
Employees are more likely to use their financial wellness program if educational resources are accessible to them. Companies can incorporate content into their Learning Management Systems, intranets, benefits portals and more. The more platforms that showcase this benefit, the more likely employees will remember to use it. In our fictional case above, “Wellbeing with Money” can be found on Company X’s benefits webpage, their digital benefits brochure and their training platform. They promote “Wellbeing with Money” on their payroll website and their third-party employee perks webpage. Company X ensures that their Employee Resource Group promotes “Wellbeing with Money” along with other wellness campaigns throughout the year.
- Construct a communications strategy
Set up regular communications to employees about Financial Wellness. Create a communication calendar each month in which you focus on certain areas or topics of financial wellness. You may incorporate financial wellness topics into your overall wellness communications strategy. Don’t worry - most providers will provide you with an effective communications plan if you ask! You may also set up to receive regular communications from your service providers directly in order to pass on this information to your employees. Don’t forget to include your financial wellness providers in your annual enrollment events too!
Lastly, you’ll want to provide incentives for employees to focus on their financial health. Providing a small token as an incentive to attend a webinar, participate in assessment surveys or schedule financial planning sessions is a great way to encourage participation. Company X decided to step up their game by offering a savings challenge for employees by encouraging regular savings into an emergency fund through payroll deduction. Their “Wellbeing with Money” savings challenge was offered to all employees and tracked through payroll deduction start and end date reporting into a designated account. Wellness points were awarded to all participants with bonus cash awards to those with the highest percentage of savings. Making activities like this more fun and interactive helps encourage healthier money habits in order to drive long-term behavior change.
Now that you have a beginner’s guide, start incorporating a variety of topical education into your financial wellness program. Employees who are continuously learning and working toward optimal financial health become more informed consumers leading to less financial stress and more financial success. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. The best way to help your employees is to make sure that you have the support you need from the financial experts who are on your team. Like our Company X, you can now take these simple steps in order to create a more holistic financial wellness benefit for all.