Financial Wellness for Employees – A complete guide

In recent years, with the changing times, the mindset and expectations of employees have seen a paradigm shift. Today, the new-age employees, especially the millennials, want much more than a simple health insurance plan. They look for more comprehensive and unique fringe benefits that companies offer. Apart from flexibility in terms of timings, holidays and work locations, financial wellness programs too, have seen a steady rise and it’s important to understand exactly what they are.

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Chapters

What is financial wellness?

Benefits of financial wellness

Financial wellness ecosytem

Salary components for financial wellness

Financial wellness programs at workplace

PwC Financial Wellness Report

Accenture Financial Wellness Report

How to achieve Financial wellness

#1

What is financial wellness?

A financial wellness program is a key element of the standard employee benefits package and is much more than investment information or retirement planning. Through a comprehensive financial wellness program, an employee will develop a precise understanding and utilization of his finances in the right place at the right time. Financial wellness programs are designed to help employees develop a healthy relationship with their finances and develop stable and secure financial plans for the present day and future.

The financial wellness of employees can be increased in several ways by conducting financial counseling sessions, spreading information about tax saving schemes and other platforms that can assist them in managing their money.

Employees who face fewer financial worries and distractions are likely to remain focused and enjoy their work. This also translates into benefits for employers as they have a focused and productive workforce at hand which can achieve the goals of the organization without any hindrances.

As an employer, you can improve the employee satisfaction rate and your overall brand image as financial wellness programs can promote employee wellbeing, increase focus and reduce employee stress and subsequent turnover. A successful financial wellness program can have several elements that can help employees achieve financial success today and secure their future.

Sharing of holistic information, training and guidance for the personal finance concerns of employees should be the key elements of any financial wellness program. Also, regular workshops along with counseling sessions by experts are essential.

The aspects of financial wellness programs can be broad, some of which can be classified as:

  • Budgeting for personal and household finance
  • Consumer debt reduction and credit building
  • Loan repayment management for students
  • Savings – emergency and short-term
  • Spending behavior patterns
  • Financial goal setting and crisis management planning

Once employees develop a clear understanding of the financial wellness program, they can get freedom from unnecessary financial stress and debts, unexpected expenses and total liberty to make informed decisions that are in line with their financial situation. Being still relatively new, the concept of financial wellness programs is still not widespread in a country like India.

It must not be confused with financial capability or financial literacy.

#2

Benefits of financial wellness 

Managing one’s finances can be tricky yet challenging at the same time. While financial stress could affect employees, it could also affect the organizations and their goals. A 2017 report by Financial Finesse reiterates the fact that employees who have low financial wellness and higher financial stress can directly affect the business of their employers. Financial stress can affect people across demographics. Young employees who are straight out of college might have to repay their education loans, the ones with families might struggle to meet their needs and achieve their goals due to expenditure-saving balance issues.

If you want to have a successful financial wellness program, it is essential to comprehensively study the needs of your employees. According to recent studies and trends, some of the key statistics related to the financial wellness of employees are:

Employees use retirement plans as a backup plan for their current requirements
PwC in 2018 had published the Employee Financial Wellness Survey, according to which employees are less worried about their savings for the future and more focused on meeting their present-day needs.

A growing number of employees are using their retirement accounts as an emergency savings account. As many as 42% of employees say that they are likely to use the retirement account money for their present needs rather than what it is meant for. Employees who are financially stressed or have large debts to clear are even more likely to use their retirement account money for this purpose. Thus, it becomes vital to help employees create an emergency savings fund, barring them from using their retirement funds.

Financial wellness = Freedom from stress

According to the same report of PwC, most employees think that financial wellness programs are designed to relieve their stress and they need not worry about expenses and finance. 81 percent of the respondents consider it freedom, which means that employers must help their employees find peace of mind through well-designed financial wellness programs. Freedom is the keyword here, and using it in the right manner will encourage your employees to better understand the financial wellness programs and use them to meet their goals.

Read a detailed blog on how financial stress can impact your employees

54% of employees want their financial decisions validated

Financial wellness programs that direct employees to do certain things in an authoritative way are most likely to fail. Employees care more about autonomy to make their financial decisions even if they are tensed about their financial situation. As many as 54% of employees in the survey wanted their financial decisions to be validated by a third party. As an employer, you can benefit from this trend and make the right decisions when drafting your financial wellness program. Consider and highlight the positive aspects of your program to make your employees feel more confident about your financial wellness program.

20% of employees want better healthcare facilities

It could be common to assume that employees would want more money as they are suffering from financial stress. However, on the contrary, 20% of the employees in the survey responded that healthcare benefits are important for them and they would be ready to compromise monetary benefits for better healthcare facilities.

Financial wellness programs lead to increased satisfaction

According to a survey conducted by Prudential Financial Inc. in May 2018, 83% of employees felt that having a financial wellness program makes them feel satisfied. It is a win-win situation for both employers and employees as some sort of a financial wellness program keeps everyone happy. When employees are satisfied and happy, it automatically improves their productivity.

You may also read: Why you should make financial wellness a priority at your company.

Why financial wellness programs are on the rise?

Recent studies and survey reports state that the popularity of financial wellness programs is on a rise. As said earlier, you would always aim for increased productivity and workforce retention in return for financial wellness programs for your employees. During the times of recession, it has been evident that there was a loss of productivity and absenteeism due to financial distress.

Financial wellness programs are a method to calm down the anxiety in your workforce due to financial challenges and make them refocus completely on the work. Numerous employers have realized that this is the best method for making your employees assured that you care about their well-being.

Moreover, today’s workforce comprises of younger generations and millennial’s who has grown up in a situation of economic prosperity. Financial wellness is the most important thing which a millennial wants as a guarantee today. They are not satisfied with the basic employee benefits and retirement plans.

Every millennial today wants financial stability, tools, and information about resources which can guarantee them a secure financial life. These millennial’s will always opt for working with those employers who provide them with the resources that guarantee financial stability in the long run. This is the main reason behind more and more employer’s consideration for offering financial wellness programs at the workplace.

Recent trends even highlight that the older generations of your workforce would also be highly interested in financial wellness programs as they are approaching retirement and would want a financially stable life post-retirement.

Offering financial wellness programs at the workplace has become inevitable today. Financial wellness has become a major concern for today’s workforce and they tend to struggle with poor financial wellness. So, if you are investing in the financial wellness of your employees you tend to understand their needs and in turn experiencing increased employee engagement and better morale.

#3

Financial wellness ecosystem

According to recent trends, financial wellness programs are seeing a steady rise today, with several organizations offering such programs. Employees are concerned about the financial well-being of their employees and are likely to make further advancements in their current offerings.

For employers who are yet to introduce these programs for their employees and for those who would want to do a mid-course correction, here are some of the essential components that highlight, why financial wellness programs are a, must have.

Financial spending and budgeting

Employees must emphasize and highlight the importance of keeping a track of current and planned spending that is budgeted. Many times, the actual and projected spending might not match, and it becomes very important to keep a track of where exactly the money is spent.

Planning for emergency funds

There will always be some emergencies, big or small, for which you might have to pay an unexpected sum which could throw your savings out of gear. There will always be regular expenses, but such unforeseen events could pop up unexpectedly and it is better to remain prepared. It is recommended to save at least four to six months of your salary as an emergency fund.

Financial counseling

If you have decided to invest big, which could put you in debt, it is always advisable to have advice from several experts. You may decide to purchase a house, car or have any other major spending, it could be wise to have your plans validated through experts.

Benefits and insurance

As an employer, you must be offering a retirement plan, life insurance or health insurance to your employees. It becomes very important to counsel your employees on how these plans are designed for their welfare and how they could protect them from serious financial debts later. As an employee, you must know the difference term and whole life insurance and their costs and supplementary benefits. Vision and dental insurance are other common benefit that are important to learn about.

The financial wellness program overall is a benefit and its components are all added advantages in themselves.

Guidance on investment strategies

Employers can guide their employees to invest their money wisely in certain schemes if they have surplus money. As an employee, if you have your finances well under your control with enough savings, you can probably invest your money in the markets or elsewhere depending upon your choice. It is recommended to invest money in low-risk options, and you should never put a major chunk or all your money at a single place.

When investing, it is important to study the returns and the time period of your investments.

#4

Key salary components

For many organizations, the decision to introduce financial wellness programs could be an easy one but deciding its components could be tough. There can be several traditional and non-traditional components and it’s important to understand how and why financial wellness is associated with them.

1. Make it a part of your annual budget

The budget for the financial wellness program could be carved out from the annual wellness budget. Organizations can contact relevant financial advisors who can identify the best possible way to make it a part of your overall benefits budget. Adding a financial wellness component to the pre-defined wellness budget of your organization could be the best way going forward. According to studies, financial wellness programs have a high return on investments. For every dollar invested, employers can get a return of seven dollars, which makes it a win-win situation for both employers and employees. The financial wellness program can be rolled out seamlessly if it’s integrated with your overall wellness budget for your employees.

2. Make it a part of your provident fund or gratuity component

Depending upon the size of an organization, it can have the financial wellness program integrated with the provident fund or gratuity scheme. These are separate employee welfare schemes, through which a fixed sum is deposited into an employee’s account each month. Of course, there are statutory deductions and the amount cannot be encashed when an employee is still working. As an employer, you can conduct an assessment to figure out how the financial wellness program can be integrated with the provident fund or gratuity scheme. Once this is done, you can allocate a significant portion of the funds of your financial wellness program to the provident fund or gratuity money.

3. Health and wellness services

Apart from the funds that you have set aside for the provident fund or gratuity, your health insurance scheme could also some space for additional financial wellness programs. Research studies have proven that personal financial stress directly affects the mental wellbeing and productivity of employees at work. Also, since stress translates into long-term health problems, the likelihood of ailments or declining mental health increases significantly. Integrating the financial wellness program with your health and wellness scheme can be very effective and helpful for the employees. Your healthcare service provider can propose better solutions to help you with your task of integrating a financial wellness program with your health and wellness scheme.

4. Learning and training budget

Most of the organizations have separate learning and training budget for their employees. In order to aid the continuous learning and growth of their employees, many organizations monitor these funds to see they are effectively utilized before the financial year ends. Organizations today understand the importance of learning and development of employees that directly translates into increased productivity and better results. According to reports, 90% of millennial employees have reported that professional development and continued training programs are an important part of their growth and job. The integration of your financial wellness program with the learning and training budget will only further help the employees to grow both personally and professionally along with the organization.

Initially, it might get tough for organizations to introduce a financial wellness program as a separate component. Figuring out the funding source could be an issue if there is no separate budget that has been allocated for such programs. Integrating the financial wellness of employees’ program with other benefits schemes could be the best way going forward.

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#5

Why do your employees need a financial wellness program?

As human beings grow in age, their responsibilities increase and subsequently their burden leads to stress. Stress could be of various forms, most predominantly being the financial one. When faced with constant financial worries, it could be very detrimental for an employee’s productivity at the workplace and the overall mental well-being. The financial wellness of employees is undoubtedly very important as the lack of it can lead to a lot of insecurity and unhappiness at the workplace.

What are financial wellness programs ?

A research study by Barclays has shown that one out of every 10 employees is struggling financially, which makes it more important for financial well-being to be considered an important factor in the workplace.

As an employee, you can reduce a lot of your financial stress through proper budgeting, spending and saving money. However, employers can also do their bit to improve your overall financial wellness by introducing financial wellness programs. These programs will help employees become more productive and achieve the organization’s objectives in the allotted time without any distractions.

How does financial wellness affect health ?

There are several direct and indirect implications for the health of people who suffer from financial problems. There could be a lack of motivation at the workplace as a result of poor financial well-being, which could also leave employees distracted, hopeless and undervalued. Lack of financial well-being could also lead to severe mental health troubles like depression, high-stress levels, and anxiety.

All these problems can severely affect an employee’s capability to work productively. In a worst-case scenario, it could also happen that you are not able to pay for gym memberships, purchase necessary medications for your well-being or even pay for nutritious food for yourself and your family members.

How employers can reduce the financial stress of employees

According to a report published in the United Kingdom, almost half of the employees in the survey reported that their work negatively affects their wellbeing. It’s very important for employers to introduce measures that facilitate better wellbeing for employees on both mental and financial levels.

As an employer, you can follow these steps to ease the financial stress of your employees:

  • As part of your overall wellbeing program, introduce financial education or guidance to help your employees understand the importance of budgeting and ways to achieve financial stability.
  • Offer competitive salaries to your employees that are on par with their skills and experience. Never always underpay and have a program of performance-based incentives to keep the employees engaged and motivated.
  • Make a comprehensive remuneration package that includes a decent private pension scheme and regular bonuses.
  • Give your employees the flexibility to work from home and at flexible times. If they need to look after their children, encourage that as it could help them avoid investments towards child care facilities.
  • If one of your employees is suffering from debts, offer flexibility in terms of granting advance salary to help them overcome the issues in their personal life.

It is also important for employees to gain basic financial knowledge that can help them make more informed decisions with their paychecks and create a stable foundation for their future.

Employers can help their employees in their endeavor by conducting regular workshops with financial planners who can educate them on various topics like the importance of budgeting, planning for loans and tax-saving options. Financial planning is more important than ever. Through access to necessary tools and resources, employers can provide employees a stable foundation for managing their financial needs.

As an employer, your kindness will go a long way in helping your employees make better choices, reduce their stress and perform to the best of their capabilities at the workplace.

Read our complete guide on employee loans

Do startups need to have financial wellness programs ?

Although its debated that financial wellness programs are successful only at large organizations, it does make sense to offer financial wellness programs at startups. Most startups are in the phase of building their company culture and it makes perfect sense to introduce financial wellness programs at this time.

Moreover, startups employ millennial and have a relatively young workforce. Via financial wellness programs, it is possible to inculcate habits of financial planning, saving and investments. 

 

#6

Insights from PwC’s Financial Wellness Report

The 8th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey of PwC was conducted in January 2019 to track the financial and retirement wellbeing of working adults across the US. The survey size was of 1686 full-time employed adults who were categorized into different groups like 18-22 (Gen Z), 23-37 (Millennials), 38 to 58 (Gen X), and 59 to 75 (Baby-Boomers). In comparison with previous surveys, this survey included more millennials and fewer baby-boomers.

The survey presents some great insights on the financial wellness of employees.

Employees are stressed despite the strong economy

In the US, the reports indicate that the economy is solid, and the unemployment rate is at a49-year low. However, this survey paints the opposite picture as many employees admitted to being stressed about their finances. Most of them rated financial stress as one factor that causes them the most stress. Increasing debt challenges and cash flow remain bigger worries that hinder their ability to save sufficiently. Many of the participants also admitted that even a small unexpected expense leaves them very stressed. Very few of them felt that their compensation is in-line with their cost of living.

The tremendous impact of financial stress

The survey highlighted a striking difference in employees who said they are worried about their finances and the ones who say they don’t have any stress. Stressed employees are nearly five times likely to have distractions at work, four times likely to face difficulties making minimum payments, and more likely to carry credit card balances due to financial stress. Financially-stressed employees are less prepared for retirement as they have saved less and more likely to work in their retirement years as well to meet their financial needs. The findings of this survey suggest that organizations must identify the root causes of this financial stress and address them for the welfare of their employees.

Changing retirement trends

As many as 80% of the employees today feel that they will be working even during their retirement years. Around one-third of them feel that they will have to work because they will need to be financially stable. These trends are likely to redefine the standard concept of retirement with people working for more years and gradually transitioning into retirement. Baby-boomers are anyways expected to delay their retirement because they haven’t saved much and due to the increasing healthcare costs, they might have to incur at a later stage in their life. Of the baby-boomers who have planned their retirement within the next five years, only 43% have a clear picture of how much money they will need during their retirement years. There is a growing need for retirement education programs to help prepare employees for retirement.

Increase in the numbers of the sandwiched generation

Many employees today are sandwiched in the middle as their personal finances are impacted due to expenses spent for both their children and parents. More than 50% of the employees with adult children are ready to sacrifice their own financial wellbeing for the sake of their children.

42% of the employees with adult children are already giving them financial support. These factors are resulting in greater debt and straining their ability to support themselves in their retirement years.

Around 60% of the employees who provide financial support to their parents think that they will have to take money from their retirement savings. Employers must address such challenges of employees by making them aware of emotional decision-making versus sound financial planning.

Student loan problems

Employee financial wellness continues to be mired by the burden of student loans. Around half of all the millennial employees continue to have student loans. Around 80% of them believe that their ability to meet other financial goals is severely getting impacted by their student loans. To counter the worries of their millennial employees, some organizations have adopted student loan repayment benefits to help their employees.

Gen Z and their concerns

While Gen Z is just about entering the workforce, their financial concerns are the same as their millennial counterparts. However, Gen Z employees are more optimistic than millennials when it comes to their financial performance. They are on par with millennials when it comes to rating job security as a crucial factor that will affect their future financial goals. However, it remains to be seen what happens when an increasing number of Gen Z employees join the workforce and if they can better spend, save, and invest as compared to their older counterparts.

The increasing popularity of digital solutions

With the increasing influence of digital tools in our daily lives, the chance to integrate financial wellness programs with online tools and Robo-advisors is bright. However, many employees feel that they would like to make their own decisions but would get them validated by an expert. More than one in four employees also want financial wellness benefits along with experts who can provide them with unbiased guidance. The presence of a human element in financial wellness programs is desired by employees. Thus, a successful financial wellness program will have the right balance of technology and human intervention.

Future of financial wellness programs

An increasing number of employees are making use of the services their employers are providing them to assist with personal finances. 71% of these employees have used the services provided to them by their employers and the number will only increase in the coming years due to the presence of millennials and baby-boomers in the workforce. It becomes imperative that financial wellness programs engage employees on a regular basis. Many employees still want to seek financial help before deciding on a crisis.

Financial stress is still on the rise as the above findings clearly highlight the fact that many financial wellness programs are still ineffective in meeting the financial challenges faced by employees. Employers and employees remain confused as so many products and services are being promoted as financial wellness solutions. The report also suggests that many employers have simply rebranded retirement education programs and offer solutions that are far from being cohesive or holistic. In terms of offering solutions, the report states that employers must revisit their financial wellness programs to determine whether they are addressing the concerns faced by their employees. Also, employees must be engaged and motivated to plan better for their retirement.

Key financial wellness stats from the report

According to employees of this survey, financial wellness means achieving financial stability and remaining free from stress. The various components that define financial wellness for them are:

  • 34% – not being stressed about their financial situation
  • 18% – remaining free from any debts
  • 16% – having enough savings and not remaining worried about unexpected expenses
  • 16% – having the financial freedom to make choices and enjoy their life
  • 12% – being able to meet daily and monthly expenses
  • 4% – being able to retire when they want to

At Koppr, we are pleased to present our 1st annual employee financial wellness survey which tracks the financial well-being of full-time employed Indian adults.

Take the employee financial wellness survey.

#7

Insights from Accenture Financial Wellness Report

In 2019, Accenture has published a report titled ‘Cornering Workplace Financial Wellness’. According to the report, a major finding was the opportunity to design custom financial wellness programs. The current programs have limited employee uptake and low sustained usage.

According to one of the recent studies, an organization with 50,000 employees can make savings of $33-49 million on an annual basis by increasing the financial wellness score by just one point of its employees. Two points, on a scale of 1-10, will help save $65-97 million.

Alternatively, employers who do not overcome this issue are at risk of facing losses of around $250 billion due to the stress that employees have regarding their financial situation.

Another highlight of the report is the fact that employees spend 150 work hours annually, which is around four weeks of work time, on thinking about their financial problems. Based on such alarming trends, organizations can design a customized solution for the financial wellness of employees and reap numerous benefits.

Keep employee’s interests at the forefront

With the changing times, retirement saving, and budgeting are no longer considered enough, and it requires a holistic approach to design a program that could meet the growing needs of the employees. A successful financial wellness program must have several elements of the financial health ecosystem like savings for a new house, managing credit card debts, etc. Besides elucidating about financial wellness, organizations must also help employees implement the program holistically.

Customize with digital technologies

Artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics can significantly help in personalization that employees expect. They can help segregate the types and categories of employees. The financial wellness programs should also personalize for life events and stages that an employee could experience during their stay with the organization. Through data-fuelled predictive analytics, employees can be given wellness that is perfectly tailored to their needs.

Create an innovative customer experience

A digital platform that has lots of content will simply not fulfill the requirements of employees. Incorporating the principles of behavioral finance, organizations must cover the various elements of the financial domain in a holistic way. From financial advisors to website and call centers, organizations must introduce these for a seamless experience.

Key financial wellness stats from the report

  • Around 80% of the employers offer financial wellness programs
  • The employee participation in such programs is less than one-third
  • Employees spend around four weeks of work time annually worrying about money

#8

How can you achieve financial wellness ?

The financial wellness of employees is not something that can be bought or achieved overnight. Rather, it involves patience and changing one’s behavior towards spending money. Every individual will have a story but, if these tips are used, it will be easier to understand the question of why financial wellness?

Make a budget

 

Depending on your monthly income, expenditure, and savings, you can develop a budget that will help you live with available resources. In case you face a shortage of money, you can adjust your budget, but do not opt for credit cards. Any emergency expenses can be covered with your savings but do not overspend or lend money.

 

Keep your spending in check

 

Once your budget is prepared, make a list of all the necessary items you would want to purchase and spend accordingly. Also, keep a track of where you are spending money regularly. If you frequently eat at restaurants, you can maybe cut down your visits by one or two times to make sure you are not overspending.

 

Be yourself as your first payer

 

When you receive your monthly paychecks, always set aside a fixed amount for yourself. You can set-up automated deposits and consider it as one of your payments.

 

Build an emergency savings fund

 

Emergencies can strike anytime, anywhere and can catch you off-guard. In such unforeseen circumstances, an emergency fund can help you sail through the problem. It is preferable to have at least four to six months of your salary in your savings fund.

 

Never make any major purchase in haste

 

If you are looking forward to making any major purchase, always plan for it in a systematic way. Adjust your budget and savings accordingly and do not break into your regular savings fund. Even if you do, make sure you replenish it to ensure that your savings don’t get affected.

 

Plan for your retirement fund

 

Start planning for your retirement fund by investing or saving a small amount of money from your salary. It might take time for your money to grow if you are saving a smaller amount but continue to do so.

 

Avoid going overboard with your credit cards

 

If you are using a credit card, use it wisely and plan your payments each month. Always stick to a limit and do not overspend. When it comes to financial wellbeing, a credit score is an important aspect. Delayed payments and higher debts can affect your credit score.

 

Keep a track of your financial records

 

Whatever money you spend on a monthly basis for your personal use, tax amount or insurance, make sure to keep a record of it for your easy reference. You must always be aware of your financial situation.

 

Seek expert advice

 

It is not bad to seek help, especially when you are a novice in that field. Besides investment professionals, there are several other professionals who counsel regarding managing money, debts or even budgeting. Get in touch with a finance professional to clear your doubts regarding financial matters.

 

Read how HR’s manage employee’s well-being in their organization.

 

#9

How Koppr can help you bring financial wellness to your employees

Koppr enables your employees to lead a financially healthy life.

Our mission is to help you become an employee-first organization by providing you the tools to engage, retain and delight your employees by taking care of their financial well-being.

Learn the basics of finance

At Koppr, we offer financial education tailored to your employee needs. With workshops, and byte-sized online courses to make learning fun, Koppr wants to teach your employees the basics of finance, in a fun and engaging way.

Helping your employees plan their finances

We seek to offer personalized financial coaching designed to help each employee improve their financial well-being. Our goals-based planning approach will help your employees take wise financial decisions.

Tracking of financial goals

We help your employees keep a track of their spending habits & financial goals

Act responsibly

Koppr offers expert advice from our financial planners to help your employees take the right action

Download the Financial Wellness Guide

Bring financial wellness to your employees by taking care of their financial health.

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