Workplace wellness programs aim to provide employees with tools to live a healthier life at work and beyond. Many of these programs have a strong focus on physical health by encouraging coworkers to get moving and make healthier food choices. While these are certainly important steps for overall health and well-being, financial wellness is another key element that often lacks the attention it deserves.
Employees bring their whole selves to work. When an employee begins their workday, they don’t leave their personal stress, opinions, or experiences at the door. When someone is suffering from financial stress, it will have a significant affect how they think, feel, and react throughout the day.
The latest Stress in America study found 72 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed about finances during the past month while 22 percent were experiencing extreme stress about money. Living paycheck to paycheck and not having the option to save money will lead to significant stress. This can contribute to health issues and reduced productivity explains Corporate Wellness Magazine.
What are the effects of financial stress?
Nearly one in five Americans have skipped or considered skipping going to the doctor due to financial concerns, according to a study by the American Psychological Association. This stress is also affecting relationships. The same study found almost 31 percent of adults with partners report money as a major source of conflict in their relationship.
Elizabeth Scott, MS, a wellness coach specializing in stress management states that ongoing financial stress can lead to several health issues including:
- Migraines, heart disease, diabetes, and sleep problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Unhealthy coping behaviors such as overeating and alcohol and drug misuse
How does financial stress impact the workplace?
Financial stress felt by coworkers can impact the organization at large. According to Strategic HR Inc., when organizations develop supportive financial wellness programs, benefits typically include:
- Increased productivity and engagement
- Improved job satisfaction
- Decreased absenteeism and turnover
- Lower health care costs
Strategies for the workplace
The first step is to determine how much your workforce may be feeling the effects of financial stress. A quick look at the number enrolled in retirement plans is good place to start. Under-utilization of retirement plans indicate your coworkers may be in a troublesome financial situation and could benefit from a financial wellness program, says Corporate Wellness Magazine.
What you find might be surprising. Nearly 80 percent of Americans are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned about affording a comfortable retirement while one in five Americans have no retirement savings at all, according to a study by Northwest Mutual.
Smart Dollar offers strategies for delivering an attractive financial wellness program:
1. Tailor your program to your unique workforce – focus on financial topics that will meet employees with where they’re at. For example, if a large percentage of your organization is younger, consider focusing on discussions about paying off student debt while growing a savings account. Smart budgeting tips are also popular.
2. Make the program engaging – Consider digital formats as opposed to traditional lunch-and-learn presentations. Can you find a collection of financial wellness videos online and share with coworkers through email or intranet? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel – so many credible financial wellness tools were created and uploaded for you to utilize.
3. Be inspiring and supportive – The goal is to inspire coworkers to change financial behaviors so they can achieve long-term financial goals. To do this, they need a program that helps them take the right steps, feel comfortable throughout the process, and build confidence. Americans who have someone they can ask for emotional support report lower stress levels than those without emotional support– be open to listening and offering support for those who need it.
Your employees are bringing their whole selves to work each day. As a business leader, you have the power to help alleviate financial stress and encourage healthy financial behaviors. Doing so will improve the health and well-being of coworkers and increase business success.