How to help employees manage their financial wellness

While a company-supported 401K plan is a good start, there is so much more that companies can do

By Joseph D. Wilson

When people talk about employee benefits, they typically focus on health insurance, 401K programs, employee assistance programs, and maybe even healthy snacks in the vending machine. These are all important benefits to be sure, but today’s employers should also take stock of their employees’ financial wellness—the ability of those who work for them to make confident financial choices that enable them to avoid stress today and provide for secure financial futures tomorrow. While a company-supported 401K plan is a good start, there is so much more that companies can provide to help their workers get on good financial footing. 

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, financial wellbeing has never been more top of mind. According to Alight Solutions’ 2020 Employee Wellbeing Mindset Study, factors such as debt and overall financial health can take a significant toll.  In fact, 24% of workers surveyed in the study report their level of debt is ruining the quality of their life, and 61% fear they do not have the financial wherewithal to retire when they want. PWC’s 2020 Employee Wellness Survey echoes those points, revealing that 54% of survey respondents list money matters as their top stressor, and 38% reveal they have less than $1,000 saved for emergencies. If a company does not believe that financial stress impacts their workplace performance, they should think again: 49% of employees say they spend three hours or more hours at work weekly thinking about their personal finances, and 28% admit their productivity at work has been impacted by financial concerns.  What’s more, Financial Salary reports that decreased productivity, absenteeism and turnover related to financial stress accounts for 13% to 18% of businesses’ total salary costs annually.

All this data points to the tremendous value that companies can offer their employees through onsite financial wellness programs as part of their overall health and wellness benefit packages.  And the best part is that many financial wellness programs can be obtained at little or no cost to either the company or employee. There are plenty of online programs and tools available, and many small business development nonprofits, chambers, 401K providers and local banks offer financial literacy resources.   

Employers considering a financial wellness program may look for the following services:

  • Onsite sessions for employees to learn about financial wellness and best practices for understanding their personal finances and how to take control of their finances;
  • Online resources that enable employees to track their spending, set budgets and document their progress toward specific financial goals;
  • Personalized advice that is tailored to employees’ individual financial concerns;
  • Banking and financial products that support employees’ financial goals.

Financial wellness is a multi-generational need, and a well-designed program will address an employee’s entire career journey. It can also help the employer -- by showing their workforce that they are invested in their overall health and future, helping them to attract and retain talent, and improving employee engagement and performance that leads to better production and results for their business. 

Bar chart showing the top financial concerns of Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers: Emergency Savings, Retirement, Investment,  Debt Management

About the author: Joseph Wilson is a Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager for KeyBank and serves on the Advisory Board and Membership Committee for the Goering Center.  He can be reached at 513-830-1037 and joseph_d_wilson@keybank.com.  

Keybank is a Goering Center Platinum Sponsor, and the Goering Center is sharing this content as part of its monthly newsletter, which features member and sponsor articles.

About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit goering.uc.edu.