Employee Financial Health: Why it IS your Business
by Ashley Wilczek
Companies have entire departments dedicated to tracking and improving the financial health of the organization. From the CFO, to the staff accountant, and controller knowing the financial temperature and wellness of the company should always stay top of mind for any organization. However, how many CFO’s and HR Leaders truly know the financial wellness of their employees? According to Forbes, as many as 31% of employees admit that financial stress and worry affects their productivity at work. That is a metric that no company can afford to ignore if they choose to remain as productive as possible.
So what can employers do to help? It starts with communication and support. If your company has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) ensure that employees know about the benefit and feel comfortable using it. If your EAP program does not offer a financial component, work with your broker or provider to see what the cost of adding that benefit. It is important that even if your program does offer this support, that employees know how to use it. Employees can feel embarrassed to admit to financial struggles. It is more important than ever to ensure that your HR department has an open-door policy and is comfortable and versed in handing out information employees need in order to find assistance.
Employers can take their support a step further by providing financial counselors and advisors to employees as an added benefit. Financial advisors often come on site to the company location facilitate educational meetings around savings in retirement plans and other employer sponsored plans. By offering matching programs on 401k plans, employers can help employees ease their minds about the security of their retirement.
One particularly helpful benefit that employers are starting to add to their benefit offerings are student loan debt repayment assistance programs. These programs help your recent college grads focus on the excitement and learning in their new careers, versus worrying about how they will afford to make their monthly student loan payments. Currently, only about 4% of employers offer a student loan repayment benefit plan to their employees, even though the student debt crisis is rising, and financial stress and worry can lead to disengagement in the workplace.
For HR Leaders, the options for offering financial health and wellness programs to your employees can seem overwhelming. So sort out what works best for your company and employees, start by surveying your employee population about what struggles they have financially and what types of financial wellness plans would benefit them the most. From there, you can lean on your brokers and network to identify the solutions that will work best for your organization and employee population. Regardless of what efforts employers choose to assist employees with their financial health, one thing is certain, employers can’t afford to ignore the issue. It’s time for HR Leaders to do an employee financial wellness checkup today!