According to the American Psychological Association survey, 72 percent of Americans are stressed about money. And new data from FINRA Investor Education Foundation suggests they have a right to be — it reveals the country’s frighteningly low levels of financial literacy.
So what does this mean for your company? Finances create stress. And stress saps productivity. In fact, a 2015 Willis Towers Watson survey found that employees struggling with finances are 29 percent less engaged, 66 percent more stressed and are absent an average of 3.5 days a year, versus 1.9 days for employees at peace with their finances.
And don’t worry about intruding. Your employees, particularly millennials, want financial planning benefits. According to a 2015 survey of employees published by Quantum Workplace and my company, Limeade, almost 40 percent of employees under 25 actively want their employer to provide these benefits.
Here are a few budget-friendly ways to give your people what they want (and need):
- Start With Awareness
A 2014 SHRM survey found 81 percent of HR professionals said they offer retirement planning to their employees, but only 25 percent offer training for basic budgeting and only 8 percent offer credit score monitoring.
Even more startling is that 46 percent of Americans surveyed in the Federal Reserve’s report on the economic well-being of U.S. households said they didn’t have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.
If you want employees to improve their finances, it’s crucial to help them understand why financial awareness is important. Provide programs and technology that give context to financial well-being, make it feel attainable and connect it to overall performance and happiness.
- Give them (and tell them about) tools & resources
Managing finances takes time and energy, but small steps from employers can help ease stress and cheer them on. You probably already provide resources that help people get credit counseling or save for retirement (including tax-lowering programs like 401(k)s and HSAs), so why not add simple tools to help them create budgets, track spending and stress less.
Also, reward employees for practicing healthy financial habits.
- Make your financial well-being program relevant to all
One size doesn’t fit all. Your efforts to support and educate employees on their finances won’t matter without a diverse financial wellness program.
Everyone needs a good foundation for standard benefits but that foundation can widely vary. Younger employees often look for basic financial education and help with school debt, while older employees might care more for educational assistance for kids, or retirement readiness.
One company wanted to help employees save by increasing participation in its 401k program. They reached out to employees not enrolled in the 401k or not maximizing the maximum company match with instructions on how to maximize their contributions. Everyone was offered a financial incentive for doing so. As a result, 77 percent of employees increased their contribution.
Above all else, listen to your employees. Give them opportunities to tell you what they’re stressed about, and how you can help, whether it’s in weekly polls, pulse tools like Tiny Pulse or social networks like SAP Jam, and especially one-on-one check-ins with managers. Starting a company conversation about financial well-being is a great first step.
Henry Albrecht is the founder and CEO of corporate wellness technology company Limeade.