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Cultivating a Fulfilling Employee Experience with Financial Wellness and Security

    As we navigate the complex workplace challenges of the modern era, it has become increasingly evident that employee happiness and productivity are closely intertwined with financial health and security.

    In fact, financial well-being is the primary source of stress for 57% of workers, negatively affecting their sleep, mental health, self-esteem, physical health and more. A proactive approach is required to address these issues before they are brought to the workplace.

    The impact of financial stress

    According to Mental Health America, some startling statistics have emerged: 21% of American adults are living with some form of mental illness, with Washington ranked 24th and Oregon ranking second-to-last for overall mental health in terms of prevalence and access to care measures.

    Undoubtedly, financial pressures have played a role in the decline of mental wellness. The weight of financial instability can cast a long shadow over individuals, affecting not only their emotional well-being but also their overall health and productiveness.

    Fortunately, employers can craft a powerful tool to combat this crisis: strong financial wellness programs. Such programs can serve as a lifeline, easing the emotional and financial burdens of employees and leading to greater happiness and productivity. More importantly, they play an indispensable role in ensuring a quality employee experience (QEX).

    The essence of QEX

    A QEX approach involves shaping the overall experience that employees have with robust compensation and benefits. Organizations that prioritize QEX are more likely to cultivate a loyal workforce and become highly attractive to potential talent. Additional benefits for the employer include reduced healthcare costs and worker absenteeism.

    QEX goes beyond merely providing competitive wages and satisfactory health benefits. It encompasses a broader commitment to addressing workers’ financial worries and security concerns, thus creating an environment where employees thrive.

    Financial stress manifests in various forms, from mounting credit card debt to insufficient savings for major life expenses such as housing, education or retirement. Employees often grapple with unexpected financial obligations, such as caring for elderly family members or covering unforeseen medical expenses. In today’s economic climate, characterized by escalating inflation and high interest rates, these financial challenges can easily overwhelm workers who would otherwise feel secure.

    This is where employer-sponsored financial wellness programs come into play. 

    4 best practices for financial wellness

    Implementing an effective financial wellness program requires a thoughtful approach and adherence to best practices, especially when integrating financial wellness with QEX:

    1. Know that every employee’s financial situation is unique. Success in financial wellness programs hinges on the ability to customize the program across your workforce. Customization can be by demographic, whether that’s location for a larger business, or age and stage of life.
    2. Evaluate engagement levels with existing financial benefits. Leveraging features such as auto-enrollment and auto-escalation can optimize the employee match and can increase worker participation in programs like pension plans, fostering greater engagement.
    3. Recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Employers should construct a multifaceted financial wellness strategy that caters to the diverse needs of their staff, with tailored solutions for each employee.
    4. Effective, personalized communication is the linchpin of high employee engagement. Workers need to be educated on how these programs work and how they can benefit from them. Consider tailoring messaging and delivery channels by demographic. As engagement increases, the quality of the employee experience within the organization will also increase.

    The connection between money, security and QEX is undeniable, and employers who acknowledge and proactively address this important employee concern will be ahead of the curve. By implementing best practices in financial wellness programs, organizations can empower their employees to achieve financial security, reduce stress and ultimately thrive both personally and professionally — and build resilient and prosperous organizations.

    --Nicole Floyd, CPA, SPHR is executive vice president and
    employee benefits sales leader at global insurance brokerage Hub International.