The journalist and professor of sociology at Princeton University, Matthew Desmond wrote an article in the New York Times a few years ago called "Dollars On The Margin, in which he takes an interesting look at the socio-economic impact of employment wages.
It's starts off as follows;
"A good wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect." "When people live so close to the bone, a small setback can quickly spiral into a major trauma. Being a few days behind on the rent can trigger a hefty late fee, which can lead to an eviction and homelessness. An unpaid traffic ticket can lead to a suspended license, which can cause people to lose their only means of transportation to work."
It's easy to get the drift from this article that stress for those in financial distress is no joke. and yes, adjusting wages can lead to better outcomes. But stress does not end there. The next issue that is not discussed in this article deals with perhaps a larger factor; what to do with wages once paid. Financial literacy, or lack there of even with a living wage can more often than not, still lead to similar situations of stress and life experiences pointed out in Mr. Desmond's article.
If wages can be seen as a crisis for communities, Financial Wellness could be seen as a crisis for employers. When a companies employees live precarious unstable lives it has as much of a negative impact on the business, perhaps even more than it does on the employee. It's no secret that financial un-wellenss has been shown over and over to significantly drive down employee productivity and efficiency, negatively effecting overall business performance.
For communities to get better..then, employers need to get smarter and start to offset bad financial wellness levels in the workplace. How? By looking too outside vendors for help and there are many available, each with their own specific employee financial wellness focal points.
Every workplace is different and every employee has unique financial wellness needs, so what works for one employer may not be the exact same program for others. However, there are some baseline areas that employers can focus on to support the financial wellness of their staff.
Borrowing - Affordable loan rates available to employees. If employees need to pay off credit cards or payday loans or simply need extra finances for an emergency they now have a better borrowing option. The loan repayments are deducted straight from their paycheque so there's never a worry about missing a payment.
Learning - Financial wellness starts with knowledge. Financial wellness education offerings will help employees become more aware of their overall financial wellness and ensure they’re able to better plan for a stable and successful financial future.
Saving - Encouraging employees to automatically direct a percentage of their pay cheque to a savings or investment product specifically designed to meet their important financial goals and aspirations.
Wage levels will always be an important factor for community success. It's not hard to conclude however that employers investing in the overall financial wellness of their employees also directly translates into an overall investment in their specific communities.