Cash-strapped guy Employers havea responsibility to improve their workers' lives—and their employerbrand—by providing resources and benefits addressing financialliteracy and health. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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When people think about wellness, physical and mental well-being aretypically top of mind. Recently, more innovative employers havestarted to take financial wellness into account given theadverse effects financial burdens have on overall health. In fact,57 percent of U.S. workers are very or somewhat stressed about their financialsituation. Additionally, poor financial literacy and money issuescan be a catalyst for anxiety and other mental health issues.

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As such, employers have a responsibility to improve theirworkers' lives—and their employer brand—by providing resources andbenefits addressing financial literacy and health. Addressingfinancial wellness also has business benefits as employeesexperiencing financial problems lose a full week of productivitycompared with employees who aren't.

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Related: Employees want financial wellness, just don't callit that

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When thinking of building a health-focused workplace, employersshould go beyond encouraging employees to exercise and stockinghealthy snacks. They should also support financial savviness. Hereare a few things to consider when implementing financial wellnessprograms.

1. Don't limit the scope

The modern workforce is comprised of five generations, each facing their own sourcesof financial stress. Attempting to address only a few buckets suchas caregiving expenses and child support rarelyleads to success, especially as employees have unique financialgoals. Financial wellness is more than retirement preparedness,credit repair or debt management and similarly to other benefitcategories, employees have come to expect a more tailoredapproach.

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According to the 2018 Workplace Benefits Report, employees wantmore personalized and direct guidance than macro-level programs.Moving beyond a one-size-fits-all approach requires resources andcommitment from an organization. However, showing your employeesyou're serious about supporting their financial goals — whetherpaying down student loan debt, saving for a first home or preparingfor retirement — can have a direct impact on the morale andproductivity of your team.

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Additionally, organizations should also focus on educatingemployees and giving them tools and resources to be financiallyliterate. For example, Morgan Stanley recently revamped itsfinancial wellness programs to provide more personalized offerings,which includes a new digital portal and a catalog of financialeducation materials to help their employees better manage theirfinances.

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Organizations looking to make an initial investment here mightconsider starting by hiring a full or part-time financial advisorto meet with employees, providing personalized advice to betterhelp them address personal goals and needs.

2. Health benefits are financial wellness benefits

The connection between financial health and physical wellnessisn't always abstract. As the cost of living skyrockets, manyAmericans are feeling the crunch of financial stress and lookingfor innovative ways to control their health-related expenditures.Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), an employer funded account,can be an attractive benefit because unlike traditional healthplans, HRAs go above and beyond routine care to offset costsrelated to vision, dental, and other health services not covered bytheir traditional health plans.

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Another benefit option to help employees have greater controlover their finances are Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSA). Theseaccounts are self-insured, private spending plans that allowemployees to receive reimbursement from a list of health andlifestyle expenses. Employers offer a yearly sum to be placed inthe fund, and employees select the amount they want to put thefunds toward within those parameters set by the employer. LSAs cantypically cover anything from gym memberships and health coachingto personal development and art therapy, and more.

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Employers can also partner with various companies to curate andoffer discounted health products (ex. fitness trackers) andservices (ex. gym memberships, nutritional consultations, etc) inaddition to offering stipends for transportation or technology useto lessen the financial burden on employees.

3. Focus less on participation and more on results

Initial efforts at measuring the success of financial wellnessprograms focused solely on participation. Today, savvy companiesare starting to realize that's not enough. While registrationnumbers are a good starting point, you also need prove that yourprogram is having a measurable impact on employee wellness andfinancial health, as well as bottom line issues like benefitpremiums.

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When initiating financial wellness programs, provide employeeswith tools to track their own progress — whether recommendationsfor a suite of budgeting apps or access to a financial advisor.Once employees have a meaningful to measure and track success, itwill not only help them stay on track, but it can also providepositive reinforcements as they notice progress. Employers can go astep further by incentivizing results and offering perks or prizesfor those who achieve their goals.

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Employers should see financial wellness as an opportunity toprovide a more well-rounded approach to health benefits. Employeesstick with companies they believe will support them in theirlong-term goals. Financial health is on par with mental andphysical — and the best companies to work for are treating it assuch.


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BrianAncell is presidentof League's US operations, leading the strategic development,market positioning and expansion of the business across thecountry. Brian hasover 20 years' experience in the health careand consulting industries. He has demonstratedleadership in the development and execution of innovative businessstrategies. 

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