One third of employees in North America say they worry every day about their debt levels or overall financial wellness, which is also roughly about twice as many employees that think about their ability to save for retirement. With employee financial wellness numbers this out of sorts, it's quite perplexing that many employers are still treating the financial wellness of their employees as a proverbial ugly ducking of their employee benefits program.
Most employers to date have been quick to avoid addressing financial wellness in their workplace and the reasons to do so are quite abundant; from it being a topic that's been deemed either too personal, too complicated or too legally risky.
Post covid however the situations have changed and the impact of employee debt and financial wellness simply can no longer be ignored. The increased pressure the pandemic has placed on employees, not to mention the additional pressure on their family members around issues like home-schooling or care for others has created a brand new wave of pressure for employer based financial support.
With this renewed look into financial based benefits, employers are also now starting to uncover the inter-connection between physical, social, emotional and financial wellness. At the employee level, each component alone can obviously have a direct impact but employers are also seeing that in fact, all areas of employee wellbeing seem to get a boost when a hard focus is placed on employee financial wellbeing.
Forward-thinking companies have also begun to take proactive steps to help their employees become more financial literate by accompanying the actual monetary programs with financial education courses. What also is becoming evident, unfortunately is that if employees do not receive these financial education programs at their places of employment, they are very unlikely to receive them anywhere else.
The final and perhaps most important understanding taking place by employers is realizing that for these programs to work, the focus can't stop at just simply having program availability. Employees must also be nudged to take an active role in these programs and use the learnings to make the necessary individual changes in their lives, ultimately improving their own individual levels of financial wellness.
In this regard, heavy employee communications must be a priority to drive ongoing employee participation and engagement.