Breaking the Myths of Financial Wellness

Anytime a new concept generates buzz in an industry, there’s an accompanying set of myths that grow up around it. And for all its growing popularity, financial wellness is no exception. If you’re still hesitating to introduce your employees to the benefits of a financial wellness program, maybe it’s because you’re believing one or more of the myths around wellness.

How Many of These Financial Wellness Myths Do You Believe?

Let’s look at several of the biggest financial wellness myths, and discover some of the truths that you and your team need to know about its value.

Myth: It’s a fringe benefit, not a staple.

Truth: It’s becoming a staple of the benefits world.

In the latest annual Employee Benefits Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, financial wellness was the one benefit HR professionals said they’re most likely to add or grow in 2017, edging health-related benefits and career development offerings. And Aon Hewitt’s “Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing” for 2017 confirms the same trend. Fifty-eight percent of companies surveyed told surveyors they already offer at least one tool to help employees with financial wellness. And that share is expected to grow to 84% by year’s end.

As its popularity surges in the HR world, the why behind financial wellness is becoming more obvious every day to the organizations embracing it. The new SHRM report emphasizes the role wellness benefits have played in cutting costs and increasing bottom lines. And more than three out of four reported such a program had been somewhat or very effective in reducing their companies’ health-care costs.

Meanwhile from an employee standpoint, there’s every reason in the world for companies to embrace financial wellness as a benefit. A high majority (88%) of HR decision-makers surveyed agreed that a financial wellness program was either somewhat or very effective in improving their employees’ health.

Myth: Conversations around financial wellness are too personal for the workplace.

Truth: This claim is essentially a myth, though it has an element of truth to it.

First let’s deal with the kernel of truth—most people really aren’t all that keen on sitting around with coworkers and sharing their personal financial details openly. (For more on this, see the myth about workshops below.)

But the larger truth is that workers’ willingness to have workplace conversations on financial topics is context-dependent. Most employees are not only open, but even eager to get guidance from their employer about how to achieve financial wellness. For some, it’s the only source of financial education they’ll receive. The key factor is delivering scalable content in a number of platforms so that learning isn’t limited by locations or schedules. As long as you’re respecting workers’ privacy and meeting them where they are both personally and financially, you’ll likely see good engagement with a financial wellness program.

Myth: Workshops are the best way to introduce the benefits of financial wellness.

Truth: Workshops have value, but are being eclipsed by digital, on-demand formats.

The lunch-and-learn format has ruled the roost in the financial wellness space for years, but its day is waning fast. The trouble with this approach is twofold. First, many people are reluctant to share money details with their colleagues or participate in “seminars” around certain topics like debt or lack of savings. And too often workshops tend to become a “one-and-done” program lacking any ongoing motivation or follow-through for the employee.

Because personal financial success is tightly wound up with behavior change, employees need more (and more frequent) inspiration. As your workers are stepping into the new habits that financial wellness brings, they’ll need help and communication throughout the process. That’s why online, personalized approaches to financial wellness content and tools deliver the ideal benefit for long and lasting change.

Myth: They won’t be interested in a financial wellness benefit because it’s way too boring!

Truth: It can be boring, but it doesn’t have to be! A good financial wellness program makes the content engaging.

Personal finance is something everyone deals with, and is an area of growing concern for most American workers. The idea that personal finance is too boring to dive into is one of those comforting myths we sometimes tell ourselves in order to avoid a deeper, and more painful truth—most employees are broke.

As hard as that is to face, it’s even more dangerous when ignored over time. These three stats paint a bleak picture:

  • 52% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.
  • 68% don’t prepare a detailed monthly budget.
  • 49% have more credit card debt than savings.

The good news is that the landscape of financial wellness has never been more varied and engaging – especially in the online market. Finding a program that is a good fit for your employees has never been easier.

The Most Powerful Truth of Financial Wellness

And as a leader in your company, it’s impossible for you to buy into the myth that the spreading financial crisis isn’t affecting your business. There are too many areas of your business being harmed by money stress in the personal lives of employees. It’s a problem impacting productivity, 401(k) investment rates and even employee retention in companies nationwide.

As we’ve thought through some of these myths, we’ve already seen hints of the underlying good news about financial wellness. It’s one of those employee benefits that improves life at every level of a company that embraces it. The most powerful truth about financial wellness is that when people discover the harm their bad money habits are causing and the potential they have to change, it can revolutionize an organization for the better.

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