Why Offer Financial Wellness?

Why Offer Financial Wellness?

Alok Deshpande Avatar Alok Deshpande

I attended a financial wellness session at the SHRM Atlanta Conference yesterday (Society of Human Resource Professionals). The seminar, delivered by Dr. Ron Leopold of MetLife, discussed the business rationale for offering workplace financial education. In other words, why should an employer provide financial wellness programs for their employees? What’s the return on investment?

First, I was excited to see this topic as part of the SHRM agenda. Given the economic conditions, financial wellness programs are on the rise and people are desperately looking for objective financial advice. Still, HR professionals need to justify the costs of the program and provide a return on investment.

Dr. Leopold’s session highlighted 2 main reasons for offering financial wellness with supporting data (which I love):

  • Reduce Healthcare costs

    • 72% of employers that offer financial wellness programs believe they are effective at reducing medical costs
    • Only 7% of employees with fair/poor health reporting being ‘in control’ of their finances (in other words, there is link between physical health and financial health)
    • People with high debt stress have 2x-8x higher rates of headaches, anxiety, ulcers, depression, and heart attacks (it’s big)
  • Increased Productivity

    • 78% of employers say their employees are less productive when they are worried about financial issues
    • 58% of employers say that financial stress contributes to employee absences
    • 27% of employees report taking time off work, or during work hours, to deal with financial issues (I think the number is higher but people are afraid to report)

I appreciate how Dr. Leopold simplified the rationale for financial wellness. Numerous other studies offer a laundry list of benefits but, unless you believe these two, the rest are irrelevant. By focusing on the core benefits, you can get a quick gauge on if workplace financial education makes sense at your company.

What do you think about the need for workplace financial wellness programs? What are some other reasons employers should (or should not)offer a program?

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