In many markets, financial wellness is a relatively new trend. Sure some companies have helped their employees out with pension funds and insurance, but financial wellness goes beyond that. As we’ve previously written, if a financial wellness programme is really going to work, it has to create a state of wellbeing where an employee feels minimal financial stress, has a strong financial foundation, and have an ongoing plan to help them reach their future financial goals.
As time passes, what that entails will evolve, driven by new and emerging trends. These are the ones you need to know about right now.
It’s a well-documented fact that financial literacy levels around the globe are frighteningly low. At the same time, healthcare, accommodation, and general living costs have sky-rocketed.
That means it’s more important than ever to be financially savvy.
“The number one trend for employee executive wellness in 2017 will be a shift toward education over counseling,” Kris Alban, executive vice president of Enrich, a financial wellness education provider in San Diego, told Benefitspro.
While the benefits of employee financial education are obvious, it’s not the only thing that’s important to building financial wellness.
Another very important factor involves empowering employees to make financially courageous decisions.
In fact, a study by Mercer found that courage is key not only to employees making financially savvy decisions, but also to making full use of the financial tools available to them.
Student Loan Relief
In many countries, young people entering the workplace are increasingly burdened by heavy student loan debt.
In South Africa, for example, more than R24-billion is owed to the state-funded financial aid scheme.
Given the difficulties clearing that debt can present, companies may have to shift their focus from providing retirement benefits to giving young workers assistance with paying off their debts.
Put simply, gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.
It’s something which has had an impact in a number of sectors, but which probably hasn’t reached its full potential in the financial wellness space.
That’s surprising, especially when you consider how easily financial principles can be gamified, especially on mobile platforms.
So what elements should a financial wellness programme include? Speaking to the website Employee Benefits Tobin Murphy-Coles, commercial director and head of software innovation at Aon Employee Benefits said:
There are three elements to [offering gamification]: employees should be able to play it competitively; play it non-competitively; or switch to not playing it at all and just consuming [information] in a [traditional] way.
For more ideas on bringing gaming elements to the financial wellness space, check out this article we wrote.
Our lives are increasingly quantified. Thanks to technology, we can track and put a number on everything we do.
Financial wellness is no different, with various apps and online services allowing people to get an instant overview of their finances.
While companies can set their employees up with these technologies, they can also use enterprise level versions to automatically track the success of their financial wellness programmes against a predetermined set of goals.
Given the high physical and mental cost financial stress can have on an employee, it shouldn’t be surprising that companies are taking an increasingly holistic approach to employee wellness.
The idea is that the whole person is considered, rather than separate aspects of their financial, physical, and mental wellness.
According to Cataline Franco-Cicero of Fiscal Fitness Clubs America, “tracking the correlation among holistic health care (physical, emotional, financial, stress management and social); cost for the care; and the impact on employee productivity, absenteeism morale” will become increasingly important.
It might sound obvious, but not everyone has the same financial wants and needs. Companies are increasingly aware of this and are structuring their financial wellness programmes to be more personalised.
That means more one-on-one coaching, as well as benefits tailored to what the individual employee needs rather than an idea of what an average employee might need.
“For most people, behavioral change occurs when meeting with a financial professional, one-on-one, to create a financial plan to which they can be held accountable,” Ben Skilling, vice president – financial planning, for Waddell & Reed in Overland Park, Kan told BenefitsPro.
What trends have you noticed in the financial wellness space? Let us know in the comments section below.