Companies with employee health programmes are nothing new. Even at the height of the industrial revolution, factory owners soon cottoned on to the idea that healthier workers were more productive . And so, restricted working hours led to assistance with healthcare, in-house gyms, and full-time diet and fitness coaches.
Financial wellness programmes have followed a similar evolutionary path. Where once a company might have helped its employees out with a pension fund, the focus is now on creating an overall sense of wellbeing where employees feel like they have a strong financial foundation and ongoing plan to help them reach their financial goals.
Thing is, the two are often treated as separate entities when a good financial wellness programme can have huge benefits for your employees’ health. Here’s how:
For many employees, finances can be a major source of stress. A 2016 survey conducted by PwC, for instance, found that 52% of US employees are stressed about their finances and 45% say that their stress has increased over the last 12 months.
Another report meanwhile found that 72% of adults are stressed about finances.
While the most obvious concern for companies is employees having to take time off to deal with financial concerns, those stresses can also have a tangible impact on employee health.
According to reports from Harvard Health Publications, financial stress triggers a fight-or-flight reaction, including an accelerated heartbeat and increased sweating.
Over time, that can take a mental toll, resulting in higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Physically, that kind of stress can impact on a person’s immune system, meaning that when flu season comes around, they’re that much more likely to be booked off sick.
Do meaningful work with each employee on their financial wellness and that stress, as well as all the associated health risks, starts to disappear.
More Time for Health
We’ve already mentioned that one of the consequences of poor financial wellness is that employees are forced to take time off work to deal with those issues. It is, however, worth digging a little deeper into what a time-suck financial stress can be.
A 2014 survey, for instance, found that 37% of HR professionals knew of employees missing work to deal with financial emergencies.
PwC’s survey meanwhile found that 46% of US employees who are distracted by finances spend three or more hours a week thinking about, or dealing with, personal financial issues.
While it’s never a company’s prerogative to eliminate those stresses for those employees, it can make things easier.
Access to a financial counsellor and a financial empowerment programme, for instance, can be immensely helpful.
Such initiatives mean employees spending less time on financial issues, freeing them up to participate in health initiatives.
Perhaps more importantly though, if they’re not using time off to deal with financial issues, they’ll use it for rest and recuperation, as is intended.
Engagement Fosters Engagement
A good financial wellness programme won’t just give your employees more time to participate in health initiatives, it may actually make them feel more inclined to do so.
As anyone who’s ever felt financial stress knows, company-run events are the last thing you want to take part in when you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for groceries at the end of the month.
A good financial wellness programme meanwhile, suggests that your company genuinely has its employees’ best interests at heart.
As Henry Albrecht writes on the Huffington Post, “providing financial benefits also shows employees that the organisation cares about them as individuals, inspiring loyalty and motivation”.
They’re therefore more likely to take part in any health and wellness initiatives you might have planned.
Has your company’s financial wellness programme improved employee wellness? Let us know in the comments section below.