Group of employees discuss the benefits of setting up effective financial wellness programs in the workplace.

Setting Up an Employee Financial Wellness Program


Offering a financial wellness program to employees is a great way to support financial wellness and needs–here's how.

If you're not already offering a robust financial wellness program to your employees, it's something to consider. Financial wellness is not only an effective way to support your workforce, but it's often a worthwhile business investment.

Learn more about financial wellness and how to get started in this guide.

What is Financial Wellness?

Financial wellness, from an employer perspective, is a holistic collection of benefits and resources to support employees, help educate them around a variety of financial topics, and arm them with tools for improving their financial present and future.

Employees have many financial concerns in their life: paying their bills and debt, saving money for various goals, building an emergency fund, affording healthcare, and making smart investments for the future. Having employer-sponsored resources and financial assistance to help them with individual financial challenges and life decisions can be of great benefit.

Why a Financial Wellness Program is Good for Business

Financial hardship could be having a very real effect on your company’s bottom line, as it can impact attendance, engagement and performance. In PwC’s 2020 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 54% of employees said financial challenges caused them the most stress, the top response.

Besides helping to reduce losses, financial wellness programs can also pay off. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says, on average, employers can expect a return of $3 for every $1 spent on financial wellness programs.

If you're considering a financial wellness program, you can also feel confident in knowing that it's something your employees want. According to a 2020 survey by MetLife, 69% say improving their financial health is one of their most important goals this year. And one in five said they were more interested in financial planning/education tools this year, especially post-pandemic. Employers that step up will stand out from the competition in terms of attracting and retaining top talent.

Getting Started with a Financial Wellness Program

Now that you've identified the benefits of an employee financial wellness program, it's time to get started putting some benefits in place. It's key to do so thoughtfully to ensure the programs you're rolling out to employees will result in concrete gains—both to their overall wellbeing and to your business's success.

Start Smart by Listening

You'll want to start with benefits that align best with your employees’ needs, your company values and your budget. Finding out the types of financial benefits that are most appealing for your employees requires some communication. You might try deploying a survey out to staff asking them to rank some of the benefits that you're considering.

Assessing the demographics of your company is a good move, too, since you don't want to leave anyone out. For instance, if a large portion of your workforce is on the younger side, education and support around student loan repayment could be popular. However, older workers might be more interested in learning about investment vehicles.

Incorporate an Educational Component

While it's always helpful if you can help supplement your employee's financial goals with real dollars, don't underestimate the value of providing resources and education. Oftentimes, people feel overwhelmed or confused when it comes to financial topics, but a robust financial wellness program can help. You could invite employees to monthly workshops or host presentations on a range of financial topics from rolling over an IRA to tax planning topics, for example.

Enhance Existing Benefits Packages

Think about your core company values when choosing financial wellness benefits. For example, if your company prides itself on innovation and learning, tuition reimbursement might be a good fit. If work-life balance is important, a financial stipend for a home cleaning service might be a welcome perk.

Advanced Financial Wellness Offerings

Once you and your employees begin to reap the benefits of a financial wellness program, you may opt to expand. It's important to keep your financial wellness offerings evolving along with your employees' needs.

Consider the following next-level financial wellness programs for employees:

  • Student loan repayment benefits. Some employers are helping staff pay down their student loans by providing actual monthly contributions, while others are bringing in loan refinancing experts to help counsel employees on their options.
  • Debt counseling. Oftentimes, people can get caught up in a cycle of debt that causes stress and can derail retirement savings. Having tools or experts available that offer actionable advice, like a customized debt payoff plan or help creating a budget, can help relieve some of the pressure.
  • Participation incentives. Just like some companies offer cash rewards or perks for meeting certain health goals, think about applying that idea to financial fitness. For instance, an employee who attends a webinar about HSAs or completes a financial health assessment quiz might earn a $50 gift card or be entered into a raffle.

Promoting Financial Wellness Benefits to Employees

It's not enough to simply offer great financial wellness programs to employees. It's also important to keep communicating what's available and how it can help.

Use these strategies to ensure your employees are aware of the options available to them:

  • Educate employees about the benefits available. Getting the word out about new programs is important. You can send information via your company newsletter and social media pages, post flyers in the break room, and ask group leaders to refer colleagues.
  • Promote early adoption. Convincing people to be the first to try something new is easier if you offer a perk. For instance, you might say that those who sign up by a certain date get a half-day of PTO.
  • Make sure the enrollment process is simple. You don't want anything to deter people from signing up for a new benefit, and a lengthy or confusing application can do just that. Look for tools that are user-friendly, or set up a convenient time when those interested can sign up as a group.

Financial wellness benefits are increasingly going from nice-to-have to must-have for candidates and employees. Although it may require a business investment, helping your workforce with their financial challenges can pay dividends. Not only will a more financially secure employee be more engaged, but they will also appreciate the extra support that you offer as an employer.

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