5 Steps to Create a Comprehensive Financial Wellness Program

August 13th, 2020
by Jonathan Leidy

Headline Image_5 steps to create a financial wellness program

Americans are worried about their finances, and it spills over into every aspect of their lives, including their work.  Compounding matters is the financial stress resulting from COVID-19.  Having a comprehensive financial wellness program for your employees is more important than ever.

Why Have a Financial Wellness Program for Your Employees?

A recent survey has found that 78% of American workers are living paycheck-to-paycheck.[1] It’s no wonder so many workers say they’re stressed about finances.

But what does this mean for you, their employer?

Employees stressed about their finances are far more likely to be late to work, absent, sick or distracted and unable to work effectively. According to the Chicago Business Journal, 43% of employees who are distracted by finances spend three or more hours a week at work thinking about financial matters or dealing with them. This equates to 150 hours per employee per year in lost productivity.[2] That’s a bundle of lost money that employers will never recover.

These numbers are causing employers to take notice, and many are establishing financial wellness programs to help.

5 Steps to Create a Comprehensive Financial Wellness Program

Employees generally need help in four key areas: budgeting, debt elimination, saving/retirement planning and asset protection. A comprehensive financial wellness program will address all of these areas while also addressing the invisible problem – poor attitudes about money.

The goal of a financial wellness program is to change employees’ behavior regarding their finances: a change that can drastically reduce their stress.

So… you’ve decided to offer a comprehensive financial wellness program to your employees. Where to start?

  1. Determine the main problem you’re trying to solve. Is it to help your Baby Boomer employees confidently retire? Decrease the burden of student loan debt on Millennials and Gen-Xers? Is it to increase employee knowledge about financial planning? Reduce absenteeism? Or reduce healthcare costs? You’ll need to take into consideration both your needs and the needs of your employees. It might even be a good idea to conduct an anonymous survey and ask your employees what they would like to receive from a wellness program. Their answers may surprise you. When you do make your decision as to the type of program to implement, be sure to give their interests top priority.
  2. Determine your employee demographics. Are there more Baby Boomers or Millennials? Your employee makeup will determine which financial topics you should emphasize.
  3. Select a provider. Most financial wellness programs are provided by retirement plan recordkeeping platforms and are not comprehensive. In seeking a solution for your employees, consider a third-party provider that can provide unbiased education and advice to your employees about their finances while at the same time keeping their information confidential. You will probably bear the cost of the program, but the tide is beginning to shift towards being able to bill these services directly to the plan. In either case, always do your due diligence and select your provider with the same care you would when making any fiduciary decision.
  4. Have a strong communication plan. Advertise the program well in advance. Tell your employees why you’re sponsoring the program and how it can help them. In addition, it may help to add some sort of incentive program in conjunction with wellness to maximize adoption rates.
  5. Track results regularly after implementation. Results are important. Has absenteeism decreased? Has 401(k) participation increased? Those are easy metrics to measure. It is more difficult to determine attitudes about money and increased productivity. Those may take a little longer to realize.

Measuring Success

Your ROI? With a comprehensive financial wellness program in place, you are likely to:

  • Improve employee engagement
  • Lower health care costs
  • Increase 401(k) participation
  • Attract better employees
  • Retain top talent

It’s a win-win for you and your employees. After all, unstressed employees are happier and happier employees are more productive.

You probably already have different types of wellness plans in your company – smoking cessation, nutrition, fitness. Adding a financial wellness plan to the mix is a natural progression and one that addresses one of the largest stressed employees face today.[3]

Creating an environment where employees feel empowered about their finances is a dialog… and we have the tools to help. Portico’s GoalPath Financial Wellness Program can help you and your employees chart the course for a better financial future. Contact us today to find out if GoalPath is right for your company.

[1] Friedman, Zack. “78% of Workers Live Paycheck to Paycheck.” Forbes Magazine. Jan. 2019.

[2] Lane, Shannon. “Employees’ money worries drain employers’ bottom line.” Chicago Business Journal, April 15, 2019.

[3] PwC’s 9th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, PwC US, 2020.