Saturday, September 23, 2023

When companies invest in employee financial fitness, everyone benefits

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Ravi Swaminathan is co-founder and CEO of Task Humana real-time digital coaching platform.

Pandemic stress. Financial anxiety. Yes, these are real terms that describe the minefield of stressors that people navigate through as they go about their day.

The Research into stress in America in 2022 by the American Psychological Association and The Harris Poll revealed that most American adults are emotionally overwhelmed and fatigued: 87% of those surveyed agreed that “it feels like there has been a steady stream of crises for the past two years.” Many people trace their high stress levels to financial worries, inflation, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Amid this ongoing stress, people are working to achieve emotional, physical and financial stability — and many turn to their employers for help. In fact, a Workplace Health Survey 2021 found that about seven in ten people feel that employers have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are mentally, physically and financially healthy. Three in four responded that they trust their employer to provide quality benefits that help them improve their well-being.

Smart employers, or those looking to attract, nurture and retain top talent, do their best to provide quality benefits – benefits beyond the usual medical, visual and dental offerings. One such added benefit I’ve seen companies offer solves a major employee problem: finances. Sixty-five percent of employees report that their debt is a problem, and nearly half say that worries about their finances distract them from their jobs. Employees seem to seek more financial confidence, and when employers help employees achieve it, everyone benefits. When employees feel a sense of financial confidence, their mental and physical well-being can improve and their stress levels can decrease. And when their employers help them achieve this, it can increase employee satisfaction and loyalty to the company.

Why and how should you invest in the financial fitness of your employees? Here’s my advice based on what I’ve learned from the employees who use our virtual coaching platform.

Times have changed, and so have employee expectations.

There was a time when workers expected much less — and employers delivered — much less. In other words, employees expected employers to provide what they were legally required to do and little else. For example, employers are legally obliged to safe workplace for employees† Companies may also be required to provide specific benefits, including time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, an employee’s physical, mental, and financial well-being has historically been viewed as the employee’s responsibility. Times (and expectations) have changed. As more employees experience the reconciliation of work and private life, more and more employers are stepping up and investing in the “whole” employee, not just the nine-to-five version.

It’s not about improving productivity.

Many employers have provided financial benefits such as financial education, investment seminars and financial coaching for years. While the idea isn’t new, the way we help employees help themselves has changed. Employers attach more importance to the financial well-being of employees and group this together with mental and physical well-being. However, employers’ focus on employee financial wellbeing should not be an initiative to squeeze a few extra hours of productivity out of people.

Financial wellness is an integral part of an employee’s overall health and includes spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and professional development. When one aspect of one’s health suffers, the whole person may suffer.

When you invest in the lives of your employees, they invest in your company.

Earlier I mentioned investing in the entire employee, not just in the on-the-job version. It may sound cliché, but it’s true: people will always be the most important asset to any company. Smart companies that value employees should offer resources that help employees strengthen their physical, emotional and financial fitness. And this support should be based on their individual needs rather than a generic, one-size-fits-all policy.

For example, you could pair a 21-year-old employee with a coach who can advise her on the best way to approach student finance, while a 55-year-old employee could schedule a similar session to monitor their retirement plans. Or maybe several employees could benefit from a workshop on how to maximize their tax refund. This personal financial assistance can showcase your investment in employees, making your employees more likely to invest back into the company (and less likely to leave).

The shift from work-life balance to work-life integration has pushed savvy employers to care for and contribute to multiple aspects of employees’ lives, both at work and outside. If it’s important to employees, it should be important to employers. Financial well-being is a key factor in the overall well-being of employees, and when employers actively help employees improve their financial fitness, everyone reaps the benefits. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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