Something I see with alarming frequency, and I know HR leaders like you do, too, is how financial stress seems to be taking over many of our employees’ lives.
It’s a problem we need to fix because the scope is so wide. Student loan debt is especially crippling to millennials. GenXers are being financially squeezed between their own expenses and commitments to their children and parents. And I talk to far too many Boomers who are so overwhelmed with today’s financial worries to even think about retirement.
Plus, we are paying the price as employers. People who are financially stressed are typically disengaged in the workplace. It makes absenteeism and “presenteeism” a management headache. Were you aware that almost half of America’s workers spend as many as three working hours a week thinking about or dealing with their money issues? We also see another price in healthcare costs as people who are worried about money let exercise and proper eating slide.
The good news is that more employers are recognizing the problem by putting financial wellness programs in place. The bad news, though, is that employee engagement is relatively low, given that many say that “services aren’t of interest.”
Stepping away from cookie cutter solutions helps immensely. After all, people at different ages and professional positions have different financial priorities and issues. Preferences on how services are delivered – face-to-face, or ear-to-ear, one-on-one coaching versus a digital toolbox and budgeting calculators – differ too.
I have found that the most successful financial wellness programs are holistic and flexible. The strategy behind them reflects the employee population’s demographics, life stage, income, and family dynamics. The solutions cover four critical interest areas: employee debt, rates of personal emergency savings, asset protection and retirement savings.
Everyone’s interests are served when employees’ basic financial knowledge is advanced (“how to budget your money”), along with bigger issues (“how to save for retirement while paying off school loans”). The program’s also a versatile HR tool: We’ve found student loan debt management programs great for recruiting and retaining millennial employees.
The financial stress that’s worrying today’s workers is not going away. When employers step in with solutions tailored to employees’ needs as much as theirs, everyone wins.