Educating employees to better themselves and their personal situations can have a positive overall impact on your company.
There’s an old adage – Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he can eat for life.
Over time, certain “life” skills that passed from generation to generation became less successful at being communicated. Financial skills like budgeting, saving for a rainy day and living below your means became catch phrases instead of words to live by and lost their impact. In a world full of early onset indebtedness, high credit, #YOLO and #FOMO on every social platform, a financial liability free-for-all has taken over many lives.
“Adulting” is hard enough and 55% of the working population struggles with debt issues. But adding in financial anxiety can cause physical and mental health complications as well, including stress, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. Extreme financial burdens may also derail employees from doing things they may normally, including a loss of their integrity (finding shortcuts and not following procedures or being scared to speak up when they witness something wrong or inappropriate).
That is why more and more organizations are recognizing how soft skills, including financial health and literacy, in the workplace can differentiate great employees (and businesses) from good ones. These skills help employees evaluate the information available and make critical decisions that can help companies improve processes and innovate in their field.
An Employee Financial Wellness Survey found that 57% of employees are stressed about their finances. And nearly 2 in 5 employees or 38% feel less than financially well. With many employees saying they are struggling, forward-thinking employers are wanting to help their employees take action to address both their short- and long-term financial goals.
Courses in financial wellness are becoming much more common. 81% of employers recently surveyed by AON Hewitt indicated "it's the right thing to do for their employees.” When done right, it can help you become a partner in your employees' financial future and security. It allows you to invest in your people and is a major indicator of your culture and commitment to your employees.
Employees state they are also hungry for the help from these employer-offered financial wellness resources. 86% of employees say they are very or somewhat likely to participate in an employer-offered financial wellness program, if offered. However, the same survey found that even though employees want the help, only 31% participate in them when they are offered.
Why the gap in “employee want” versus “employee use”?
It mostly came down to a breakdown in communications.
- Either employees didn’t know where to go or what to do
- Or they didn’t find the information useful to their situation and their feedback wasn’t asked or considered
Employers have a huge opportunity to teach their employees to fish and help them achieve good financial health during a time many of your people are struggling. So, how do you take on such a monument? The same way you would climb to the top of the Transamerica Tower, step-by-step.
- Work with a strong external resource to develop a program geared toward what your employees want.
- Develop a clear and powerful communications plan for employees so they know where to go, what to do, what they will get and how to give feedback.
- Create a positive culture to encourage your employees to improve their soft skills and learn more about themselves.
- Then use your leadership skills (see what I did there?) to inspire, encourage and empathize with your workforce and provide opportunities for employees to unlock their hidden potential.
Employers can have a significant, positive impact on the financial lives of their employees by offering support across many financial topics.
Helping employees become better well-rounded people, not only in their position but also in their financial wellness will help you relate better to their individual situations and give your employees better lives for themselves.