It is not breaking news that everyone today experiences stress, but in the workplace, stress may surprise you:
- Stressed employees cost US companies more than $300 billion annually.
- Over 80% of workers admit to having financial stress.
- 97% of employees admit that they thought about or dealt with their personal finances at work.
- 40% of employees wish their employers cared more for their financial wellness (2).
Consulting firm Aon Hewitt surveyed over 2,800 workers and confirmed when it comes to stress, a worker’s financial situation is the number one cause. An even more compelling finding of their study was that over half of the workers reported financial stress caused them to be less productive at work (2).
Stressed workers may find their minds wandering throughout their shift, thinking of how they are going to pay their house and car payment at the end of the week. This not only makes them less productive, but also sets them up for a possible injury. Losing focus on their job task may result in them harming themselves with equipment, tripping and falling or even hurting their coworkers. Combine these health hazards with the others that come with stress in general, such as high blood pressure, bad eating habits and an increased chance of smoking, and you’ll get unhealthy and unsafe workers.
This is where a good safety program can be of use, especially one that is part of a larger overall wellness program. Wellness programs have taken great strides to be more holistic over recent years, taking into account mental and social factors like stress, rather than just losing weight, lowering blood pressure and other physical aspects of wellness. What specifically caused this shift in thinking? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau points to the economic recession that occurred from 2000 to 2010 combined with the recent technological revolution (1). Because of these events, an increasing number of people are stressed and the workplace is feeling the effects. In line with this, safety programs have evolved to be more than just wearing hard hats and completing OSHA logs. There is a need for financial education and coaching in the workplace, and a safety program can help to fulfill it.
As with all safety and wellness programs, a financial wellness program should be aimed at maximizing its impact on those who need it. Therefore, it must be onsite, easy to access and during hours associates have free time, such as breaks. We can’t just hand out information packets or a link to a website and expect associates to take the next steps without us. Some associates may not have time or energy after work, or even access to a computer to complete the desired steps. Expecting associates to take time on their own to educate themselves about managing money will likely cause even more stress!
The Lunch and Learn is a great format to capture associates for fifteen to thirty minutes as they are on break, and if they get a free lunch or snack out of it, even better! An onsite wellness coach who is trained in providing financial education is an effective method. Since financial stress looks different for everyone, a program must be tailored to the specific needs of the population.
We also cannot expect all employees to jump on board as soon as the program is offered. Some may not be interested at first, but an event may happen that would bring a need throughout the year. There are a few strategic times throughout the year to offer a financial wellness program. Just as a summer vacation triggers the needs for a weight loss program, the holidays, tax season and an unpaid week or two shutdown seen in some manufacturing plants are just a few times of increased financial stress for associates. Having the ability to engage associates during these stressful times and help them create better financial habits will lead to a safer workplace.
Compared to common health care costs in the hundreds of thousands, implementing a financial wellness program on average costs only $5000 to $10,000 annually. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “the return on investment for financial wellness programs is between $1 to $3” (1).
Benefits of Workplace Financial Wellness Programs
- Higher employee productivity
- Increased employee morale
- Reduced employee absenteeism
- Increased employee retention
- Reduced health care costs
If you are interested in any more information on Financial Wellness programs, please contact us today.
Kline, Alex. “Where Is the Fine Line Between Employee Wellness and Employee Wealthness?” Occupational Health & Safety, 11 Mar. 2016.
Wong, U-Bond. “Employee Financial Wellness: An Integral Part of an Organization's Corporate Social Responsibility.” HR Connect Asia Pacific, Aon Hewitt, 2016.