Results Matter: Does Your Company’s Financial Wellness Program Create Long-Term Change?

If you’re helping your company choose the best employee benefits, there’s something you need to know about financial wellness: results matter!

Plenty of programs can wow you with tools and marketing, but vendors that truly help their clients win financially are sadly few and far between.

You’d probably like to know what a results-driven corporate wellness program looks like.

Let’s talk about it!

What Does “Results-Driven” Mean in a Financial Wellness Benefit?

First a word about what it doesn’t mean: It doesn’t mean checking the box on a list of “nice to have” benefits. If you truly believe in helping your team thrive financially, you’re going to need more than a set-it-and-forget-it mentality to make that happen.

When we talk about a results-driven wellness benefit, we’re talking about a program that delivers the goods on two main levels: for the employee and for the employer. You’re already used to thinking about financial wellness from a company perspective. “How are we doing with our 401(k)?” is a question that many people ask, and then feel like all’s well so long as they’re seeing decent participation.

But what’s become obvious in the decades since the introduction of the 401(k) is that despite its popularity as the “one weird trick” to solve employees’ financial security, Americans are more broke than ever! The disconnect has two main causes: plan leakage and loans against 401(k)s, and the disastrous state of the American worker’s personal finances!

Unless your financial program allows you and your company’s management to get insight into how employees are progressing financially, as well as how your company is doing on several measures of retirement readiness, it’s failing both you and your team!

What types of results-driven programs should you be considering? It all begins with a long, hard look at individual behavior change.

How Does a Results-Driven Benefit Help Workers?

Think for a minute about what the average worker on your team goes through financially on a day-to-day basis. What kinds of conversations have you had with employees and coworkers related to money, debt, bills and just getting by? If you’re anything like most who work in HR, you’ve probably dealt with plenty of questions and conversations with your team about:

  • Payroll advances
  • Requests for time off to deal with financial problems
  • Employees on the phone during work hours for the same reason
  • Loans taken out against 401(k)s

If you’re not dealing with at least some of those conversations regularly, you’re probably wondering about how to get enrollment in the 401(k) up. But if you’re working with typical American employees, you’ve probably had plenty of talks about money woes unrelated to retirement.

The fact is most of the programs on the market can be sorted into one of several groups, and each one is totally inadequate to give anybody real and lasting financial wellness:

  • Status quo programs with annual seminars on investing
  • Programs that offer tools for budgeting or investment calculations and not much more
  • Programs that focus mainly on information and education

None of them get to the heart of the matter: the ugly truth that most employees need to radically change their basic financial behaviors.

A results-driven benefit offers workers simple and clear action steps they can start on right away, and a way to track their progress through the steps. The fundamental keys to their progress will include:

  • Emergency savings
  • Budgeting
  • Debt elimination
  • Insurance
  • Investing

In time, those wins will lead to the kinds of measurable outcomes you’re looking for as a company.

How Does a Results-Driven Program Help Your Company?

Okay, so what about you—the employer? Here’s the deal—financially stressed employees are distracted at work, and that affects your bottom line. You know this is true from experience, and it’s backed up by research. A 2017 study reported that among workers who are struggling financially, 31% said “money concerns prevent them from doing their best work.”(1) The same study compared those who are struggling with money to those who feel unworried and found some startling differences:

  • Those who struggle have 79% higher absenteeism than their financially-savvy peers.(2)
  • They’re six times more likely to say money concerns affect their work.
  • They’re three times as likely to believe that working beyond age 70 is in their future.

And you don’t think that’s hurting both your workers and your organization? Trust us, everyone’s feeling the pain!

But what might happen if you could give your struggling employees a wellness solution that helps them move into that unworried group?

They’ll be at work more often, and they’ll be more focused on what they’re doing on the clock. You’re going to have fewer conversations about payroll advances or 401(k) loans. And you’ll begin to hear employees shift from asking, “How am I going to survive the month?” to asking, “How much should I be investing in my retirement account?”

Wouldn’t that be a monumental shift?

Real Financial Wellness Begins With Measurable Behavior Change

Ideally, results-driven programs have reporting both at the individual level and the company level to back up their claims of moving the needle. If your current financial wellness program can’t show you how it changes behavior over the long term . . . well, it’s time to demand better.

When employees begin to get the message into their heads that they can switch from bad habits to good ones, and that people just like them have already done so, the victories will be contagious. Before you know it, employees and leaders will experience the wins and feel the temperature change in the room.

Need a quick and convenient checkup on your own company’s wellness situation? Go look yourself up using our Retirement Health Score tool. It’s a powerful insight into the way employee behaviors are impacting your retirement plan, and might get you moving toward the right solution.

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