Financial Wellness — the proactive management of income and expenses to maintain financial health — is starting to gain momentum. While employers have been implementing health-related employee wellness programs for years, two recent studies from MetLife (The MetLife Study of the American Dream, 2010 and the 9th Annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends) show mounting evidence for the growing popularity and effectiveness of employee financial wellness programs.
Among MetLife’s findings:
•tInvestment in employee financial education can realize a 3:1 return in improved workplace productivity;
•tNearly three-quarters of employees are very interested in having their employers provide financial education programs;
•tEmployees who participated in a work-sponsored financial planning seminar are more likely to feel loyal to their employer, and employees who are satisfied with their benefits are three times more likely to be loyal to their employers;
•tHighly compensated employees are particularly interested in financial education in the workplace. Of those employees making $100,000+ per year, 76 percent were interested in attending workplace financial planning seminars.
All of this adds up to one obvious conclusion. Employers need to treat employee financial wellness in the same manner they treat health-related wellness programs. And, the keys to making these programs successful are virtually the same, according to MetLife:
•tCommitment from the top — it is critical that upper level company leaders are engaged in the process and show support.
•tEducational programs must meet the diverse needs of the work force. Generation Y employees are likely to have different concerns than their Baby Boomer teammates. Both groups’ needs should be addressed.
•tIn addition to informational seminars, plans should also include provisions for helping employees take action.
•tStrong communication — it is important to keep employees updated on program availability, but it is equally important to listen to what employees feel is working or needs adjustment.
Our experience working with companies around Metro Detroit mirror the MetLife findings. Employee wellness continues to grow in importance and companies looking to build employee loyalty are taking a close look at employee financial wellness programs. We expect this trend to continue, and bet that MetLife will find even more compelling numbers supporting this trend over the next few years.