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Wellness Expands to the Financial Arena

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Wellness programs have crossed the line from “nice to have” to “must have” as part of a competitive benefits package. And these programs are evolving. To date, most wellness offerings have focused exclusively on health, but this is about to change. You can now add “financial wellness” to the mix.

According to the MetLife 10th Annual Study of Benefits Trends, “nearly half (49%) of employees surveyed say that because of the economy, they are counting on their employer to help them achieve financial security…” And with good reason. The study also reports that nearly one in four employees surveyed is significantly behind in financial planning and many may delay retirement because of the economy. There is also significant concern about the viability of Social Security and Medicare.

This new focus on financial health is an opportunity for employers to build employee loyalty, ease employees’ concerns and demonstrate a strong commitment their workforce. All of which will help to advance the company’s business goals.

The MetLife study offers a number of ideas for addressing financial health, via benefits program design, education and communications. Here are a few considerations:

  • Employees have a strong interest in financial education in the workplace, especially Gen X and Gen Yers. In fact, they admit that they need and welcome this support.
  • Historically, employers have had trouble attracting employees to financial planning seminars and taking advantage of other resources. But don’t give up. The interest and need is there. Find new ways to encourage employee participation. Ask them what might work better.
  • Consider adding a financial component to your wellness program. You can start simply by communicating it as a total package—health and financial wellness—and highlighting the plans, resources and services you make available to help employees build the financial security they need.
  • Employees’ insecurity around their financial health costs employers plenty. The MetLife report indicates that nearly a quarter of employees in the study admit that they have taken unexpected time off in the past 12 months to deal with a financial issue and/or spent more time than they think they should at work on personal financial issues.

Be sure to include “financial health” as part of your benefits and communication planning for 2013.