Man looking at dollar signs When 40 percent can’t cover a $400 emergency and nearly 80 percent live paycheck to paycheck no matter their pay grade, the need for a financial wellness solution is clear. (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’re going to spend money on a benefit for your employees, it needs to actually work. So many wellness programs just blow smoke. They either don’t give employees the right tools to succeed, or they give them a false sense of control with gimmicks and information that don’t actually make an impact for the long term.

Both lead to failure.

Related: 9 concerns about employee financial wellness

Think of it like this: If your employees need a bookcase, and you only throw an instruction manual at them, you’re setting them up to fail. However, if you give them parts and tools with those instructions, as well as a little motivation, you’re providing them with everything they need to succeed. It’s the same for wellness.

What does wellness look like in the new year?

The new year will see trends like the expansion of health care options and a growing mental health focus, but it’s financial wellness benefits that can make the greatest impact for your employees.

Let’s face it: your employees have money on their minds. At SmartDollar, our studies found that 83 percent of employees across the country want to manage their money better. And when 40 percent can’t cover a $400 emergency and nearly 80 percent live paycheck to paycheck no matter their pay grade, the need for a financial wellness solution is clear.

It’s time to call it like it is: Financial wellness is no longer optional. Your employees are looking to you for help. And it’s up to you to give them what they need to take control of their money once and for all.

What makes a financial wellness benefit succeed?

A successful financial wellness benefit will show your employees how to change their behavior, not just throw instructions at them without any tools.

You need to know there are programs out there pretending to be financial wellness, but they’re just not. They fail because they don’t teach employees how to achieve long-term change with money. Instead, through easy access to paycheck advances, student loan refinancing and payday loans, these predatory programs actually hurt workers by making them feel comfortable with their money problems while making matters worse.

Another pretender? Financial literacy only. Simply put, there’s no connection between financial literacy programs and sound financial behavior.

What does real financial wellness do for your company?

Money problems follow your employees to work, making them stressed and distracted and costing you money. But when your employees achieve real financial wellness, they have reduced stress, miss work less often, and are more productive. It also makes them want to stick around and participate in other benefits—like your 401(k). And giving your employees the tools and inspiration they need to change the way they handle money for a lifetime? That ROI has an impact that reaches far beyond business.

Brian Hamilton is the vice president of SmartDollar, a financial wellness benefit from Ramsey Solutions helping millions of employees across the country reach their financial goals.

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