Improve employee benefits when the opportunity arises! The start of each new year is often a time of reflection and goal-setting. Many people set physical fitness goals, while others choose to focus on their fiscal health. January is Financial Wellness month. Writers and videos serve-up a potpourri of ideas to help improve employee benefits. A lot of new ideas and strategies are put forth in January. That makes the month of February the perfect time to consider the very best ideas put forth in January to improve employee benefits. It is never too late for employers to offer their support when it comes to bolstering financial wellness in the workplace.
Early in the new year is when most organizations attempt to strike a balance between managing resources and their budgets. Employers also make the effort to improve employee benefits to recruit new talent and retain existing talent. Simultaneously, inflation continues to impact household budgets, and now there is talk of a potential recession. Americans are stressed about their finances. According to a LendingClub survey cited in a recent Employee Benefit News article, 60% of U.S. consumers are living paycheck to paycheck as of October 2022, including 28% who earn more than $200,000. Additionally, EBN cited its own State of the Workplace Financial Benefits Study, which found that 84% of employees want their employers to be more involved in helping them with their financial challenges.
EBN put forth three ways employers can improve employee benefits while shoring up their own fiscal health:
- Make the most of what you have. Your current benefits offer a foundation of financial support for employees. Whether it’s commuter subsidies or 401(k) matching contributions, it’s important to make employees aware that every one of these benefits exist. Then, consider going one step farther, by describing how those benefits help support employees’ financial well-being. Both HR leaders (96%) and employees (89%) recognize that employers need to do a better job of helping employees understand how to make the most of their financial wellness benefits. Employers should start by reimagining how they communicate company benefits by doing the following. Strategically leverage internal communications and engagement efforts. Focus on helping employees make the most of what is already available to them. Highlight budgeting tools, retirement calculators, and self-guided education opportunities to help employees take charge off their own finances.
Make it a two-way conversation:
- Invite feedback;
- Gather data; and
- Listen to your employees.
Always take the time to discuss additional opportunities by tapping into educational resources and upgrades with your benefits provider.
2. Get back to basics. Providing access to a financial professional can help increase the success of your financial wellness program. Show employees how your benefits can help them have a better relationship with their money. If you’re not already doing so, consider offering access to financial wellness tools such as financial planning tools, basic financial education, and personalized guidance from a financial coach or advisor. Employees tend to feel less overwhelmed and make more progress toward their financial goals when they have someone to guide them and create a targeted financial plan for them.
3. Cultivate an inclusive, supportive culture. Employees want to have a sense of belonging in the workplace. Based on individual experiences and backgrounds, everyone consumes and responds to benefits differently. Acknowledging this and building a culture that embraces employees from all walks of life can help employees to connect with their benefits on their terms.
According to the EBN article, penned by Krystal Barker Buissereth, Head Of Financial Wellness, Morgan Stanley At Work, employers should seek to answer questions such as: “How does engagement with your benefits hold up across different employee segments? Is participation in your equity programs reflective of your overall employee population? Are diverse or underrepresented employee populations asking for or looking for specific financial benefits? Do your benefits truly offer something for everyone and give everyone a seat at the table?”
Given the financial challenges facing Americans today, anything employers can do to make them feel more valued and less stressed about their money can go a long way to enhance your recruiting and retention efforts. Offering access to financial wellness tools and financial professionals can give your employees more peace of mind when it comes to their money. This contributes to employees being more productive and focused at work, increasing their job satisfaction, and improving their physical and mental health. What’s good for your employees may also be good for your bottom line. When a company makes the effort to improve employee benefits, they can also improve the organization’s financial well-being.