Mans hands cupped over a small leaflet growing on a pile of coins These benefits aren't cheap, butneither are financially stressed employees.

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Can you think of the last time a financial situation had youstressed out and so preoccupied it was difficult to focus at work?All you could think about was handling the situation andmaintaining financial stability, eliminating that addedstress and getting back to life as usual. Now top that situationoff with the new reality of COVID-19. Employees who were previouslypreoccupied with a personal financial challenge and couldn't give theirfull attention to work are now dealing with the added stress ofremote work, homeschooling, adjustments to social distancing,physical and mental health threats – this list goes on.

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As an organizational leader, you're also dealing with financialstress. You're trying to figure out how to maintain the financialstability of your business and continue moving forward, withoutsacrificing your staff or the employee benefits they rely on. Thelast thing you want to resort to are layoffs.

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So where else can you cut expenses? What can your business dowithout, or do with less of? There are no simple answers or easychoices.

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Health insurance. Dental and vision. Disability. Sick leave.Paid time off. Financial support. Your employees count on yoursupport, and these benefits aren't cheap. The reality: Financially stressed employees aren't cheap either.

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78 percent of workers struggling financially haveindicated financial stress creates distractions that negativelyimpact their productivity. Employees stressed over finances costemployers about $2,000 per employee. Your business alsoexperiences the additional cost of their employees' financialchallenges through stress-related medical claims.

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Financially stressed employees are twice as likely tosuffer from poor health and are more susceptibleto debt-related stress issues such as back and muscle tension,ulcers, high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia, anxiety, anddepression, all of which can increase health claims.

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In today's environment, the need for employee health care isexacerbated. The need for financial support is critical to supportnot only day-to-day expenses, but the increasing challengeemployees face to afford unexpected medical bills. How can youcontinue to provide for your employees without sacrificing thelivelihood of your business?

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During this time of financial unrest, financial benefits are themost critical benefit you can offer. If ever there was a time youremployees needed financial wellness services and support, it isnow.

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The great news for your business is that financial wellness doesnot fall into the category of an expensive benefit, and the valueit brings to your employees and your organization far outweighs thenominal cost. Here are a few key elements of financial wellnessservices that your employees need right now:

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Financial counseling. Trying times like theCOVID-19 crisis we're currently facing make it even more difficultfor your employees to develop a solid financial plan. They'restressed, financially strapped and focused on how they're going tomake it through the week. It can be daunting to think rationallyand make level-headed financial decisions.

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Certified financial counselors provide one-on-one expertguidance and recommendations to employees going through major lifetransitions. They can help them reassess their budget, evaluate andprioritize expenses, answer questions about job loss or how tohandle specific debt concerns.

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Online money management and budgeting tools. Ifyour employees weren't following a budget previously, they'resurely thinking about it now. Financial crises force everyone tore-evaluate how they're allocating their money, especially if theircash flow has been negatively impacted.

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A simple online budgeting tool can allow your employees to linktheir accounts, track their spending, identify areas of opportunityand adjust accordingly. There are also simple calculators that canhelp them determine how much they are able to comfortably afford tosave or spend depending on their particular situation.

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Accessible financial solutions. Challengingtimes require financial support for both the near-term andlong-term. Your employees are going through financial challengesunique to them. Financial wellness services provide your employeeswith options and recommendations based on their individual needs.Some are dealing with cash flow challenges when it comes to payingbills; others may need additional financial support if their cashflow has been temporarily interrupted or halted.

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Knowledge to make smart financial decisions. Ifyour employees don't have access to tools and resources that willhelp them make sound financial decisions, the next financialchallenge they're faced with may send them into a downward spiral.Having the appropriate knowledge and being mentally prepared tohandle financial challenges is as important as having financialsolutions to fall back on.

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Financial wellness services provide critical educationalresources that arm your employees with the knowledge they need toregain and maintain financial stability.

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By giving your employees the tools and resources to cope withtheir current financial situations and make better money decisionsrelated to saving, spending, borrowing, and planning, you'll seecountless positive returns. Your employees will not only be moreproductive, they'll appreciate your organization more for offeringthem a benefit that truly adds value.

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As we all struggle to muddle through the challenges presented byCOVID-19, we also need to look ahead. We will make it through thispandemic, and what better way to welcome your employees back tofull strength than by offering them access to important financialwellness tools that improve their health and well-being?

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David Kilby is president of FinFit, a nationalfinancial wellness brand based in Virginia Beach, Virginia

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