Many employers recognize that financial wellness programs are a key employee benefit that can help to reduce workers’ stress, improve employee retention and set employers apart in the marketplace. Employees who are less stressed about their finances are more focused and productive on the job, which can positively impact the bottom line.
Overwhelming evidence suggests American workers not only need, but want employers’ help when it comes to getting a handle on their finances. In addition, 75% of employees feel that financial wellness should be part of a company’s program.¹ Therefore, employers are in a unique position to help workers improve their financial well-being.
The business opportunity is significant. Still, employers face a major question: How can you measure the success of a financial wellness program?
Most employers understand the benefits of a comprehensive financial wellness program, in fact, 92% of employers said they were moderately or very likely to create or focus on financial wellbeing.² Once the program is in place, it’s a question of measuring its effectiveness. Therein lies the challenge.
In short, the metrics aren’t black-and-white. How does an organization define what financial wellness means for its employees? If it lowers employee stress and boosts productivity, for instance, should you focus on financial return on investment (ROI)? Is financial wellness part of a strategy to enhance current and future employees’ perception of the company? Or is the primary goal to improve employees’ quality of life, regardless of the impact on job performance? The value isn’t often easily translated into a dollar figure.
It may be possible to measure a program’s effectiveness by analyzing how it reduces costs in relation to lower turnover, or reduced disability and health insurance claims and expenses. Again, those costs are more difficult to quantify on a large scale.
So, assessing the effectiveness of your financial wellness program requires a more holistic view, which could include metrics such as:
1. Use and
Financial wellness programs are only effective if employees are using them. Leverage vendor data to track the number of employees signed up for financial wellness benefits, completing tutorials and related activities, and taking action to better manage their finances.
2. Positive benefits
Your benefits plan data yields a wealth of information about your employees¹ financial health. An uptick in retirement plan savings or health savings account (HSA) enrollments may be an indication that the financial wellness program is helping employees find extra money they can save and invest for the future. Increased enrollments in employer-sponsored life, disability and other “safety net” coverages may be another positive indicator.
3. Fewer financial
Look to payroll and retirement plan data for downward trends in outstanding 401(k) loans, the frequency of 401(k) hardship withdrawals and loan defaults, and the number of emergency or payday loans. Fewer financial hardships may be a success indicator for improved financial wellness.
4. Absenteeism, productivity
Employers can also measure the effectiveness of financial wellness and its impact on reducing employee stress by tracking absenteeism, along with data on disability and worker’s compensation claims, and health benefits claims for stress-related illnesses.
The best way to know if your financial wellness program is working is to simply ask. Ask your employees for feedback, either via surveys or anecdotal information collected from supervisors and frontline managers.
Employers have the ability to collect workforce-specific data through their partnerships with financial wellness, health and retirement benefits providers.
The impact of financial wellness programs goes beyond the obvious metrics. Often-overlooked markers of long-term success in your workforce may include:
An investment in financial wellness is an investment in your workforce that may pay off in numerous ways, including higher employee morale and engagement, increased productivity, higher benefits usage, lower health costs and a reduction in delayed retirements, along with adding value for employees. But it’s about more than offering a benefit—it’s about building a measurable strategy and creating a positive culture within your organization.
¹ CFSI. “Employee Financial Health: How Companies Can Invest in Workplace Wellness.” May 2017.
² Alight Solutions. “Hot Topics in Retirement & Financial Wellbeing.” January 2020.
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CRC 3230074 09/2020