A guide to reducing your team’s biggest source of stress

Money matters.
Money matters.
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Work is stressful. There are deadlines to meet, goals to hit, and clients who give you a headache. As work-life balance becomes ever more blended, what employees experience outside of work is harder to leave at the office doors.

As a result, the biggest cause of stress on the job isn’t a demanding boss, it’s personal finances. And it affects workers across all life-stages, generations, and socioeconomic statuses, according to MetLife’s 17th annual US Employee Benefit Trends Study (EBTS).

More than a third of American employees say money concerns negatively impact all aspects of their lives. At work, it leads to distraction, absenteeism, and high turnover. In fact, 1 in 3 employees admit they’re less productive because of constant stress about money. This has a real impact on businesses, adding up to $250 billion lost each year.

Traditionally, financial support for employees means benefits like medical insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, paid time off, parental leave and a retirement plan, such as a 401(k). These are no longer enough.

Now’s the time for businesses to go beyond a collection of one-off offerings and create holistic financial wellness programs for their workforce. A well-designed program connects the dots between benefit offerings and provides valuable guidance and resources.

By supplying an integrated way for workers to identify their personal needs and improve their financial circumstances, employers can support them more effectively on their journey to the state of being in strong financial health—in and outside of the office.

Follow this step-by-step guide to discover how to create a financial wellness program that will work for your workforce.

Remember the three pillars of financial wellness

Financial wellness is defined as the ability to manage day-to-day finances, protect against unexpected expenses and fiscal shocks, and plan for future milestones. A successful program supports all three attributes.

Employees’ top sources of money worries are both short-term concerns, like paying bills and urgent health needs, and long-term ones, like outliving retirement savings. With that in mind, prioritize the three pillars to help employees feel secure in the present and confident about their financial future.

Further Reading

Employee's money worries hit the bottom line

Data is still king. Use it wisely

Before the end of 2018, 82% of organizations planned to either begin or increase their use of big data in HR. Why? Because most HR teams have access to mountains of data, enough to lead to insightful action.

By understanding your workforce’s needs through quantifiable metrics, you can define their priorities and preparedness. In a comprehensive assessment, gather demographic details, like generation, life-stage, family structure, and financial circumstances, and analyze existing benefit information, such as retirement plan contributions, loans, and disability claims.

In the future, AI could make tailored benefits recommendations and help determine which type of medical plans are right for employees based on their utilization history, pay, and other metrics. In the meantime, collect and analyze data—while always adhering to strict data-privacy practices—to determine what type of programming and benefits are most relevant for your employees.

Further Reading

Predictive analytics will be the silent game-changer in employee benefits

Personalize your program

As your assessment will show, financial wellness offerings can’t be one size fits all. Workforces are diverse, and many are multi-generational. There are drastic differences between the priorities of a Gen Z-er newly entering the workforce, a millennial looking to support their young family, and a Gen X-er sandwiched between caring for kids and parents while preparing for retirement.

Make your program rich with options and offer guidance in tailoring it to the specific needs of each employee. For example, new parents might want to start a payroll-deduction rainy day savings account in addition to their established 401(k) plan. Meanwhile, a financial expert can guide a Gen-Zer to enroll in a student loan repayment assistance offering.

Further Reading

These are the 4 smartest financial benefits for employees

Draw them in and encourage

Customers want new ways to manage their money. Banking, for example, has transformed the customer journey from in-person service to drive-through tellers and ATMs, to smartphone apps and AI-powered chatbots. This is because they recognized the need to offer their services across multiple channels—including both traditional and digital means—in order to appeal to customers. Your program should do the same. If you want engaged employees, offer the communications channel they feel most comfortable with.

If you’re a tech company, you may want to develop an app for delivering your benefits, but you’ll still need to service employees that prefer in-person or over the phone support. By delivering your program over multiple channels, you’ll draw in and continually motivate workers to take action towards bettering their financial health.

Further Reading

Using technology to keep employees engaged in your financial wellness program

Evaluate and adapt

People evolve and so do their finances. In order to keep your benefits effective and relevant, continuously review and evaluate your employees’ needs and adjust accordingly.

You’ve heard of return-on-investment (ROI), but another metric should be used to measure the success of your program. Instead of just analyzing hard-dollar savings, use value-of-investment (VOI) to evaluate your program more holistically. It can measure employee productivity, engagement, job satisfaction, as well as costs associated with absenteeism, disability claims, and turnover. Choose which metrics make sense for your business and keep a regular pulse on your program.

Further Reading

The untapped potential of workplace financial wellness programs

Learn more about financial wellness and ways to foster a thriving workforce. Read the full 2019 US EBTS report.