Adding Health and Financial Wellness to the Employee Experience

Health and financial wellness is a term we sometimes use to describe ‘extra’ employee benefits—that is, beyond the standard health insurance and retirement plans many companies offer as baseline benefits to their employees. But these ‘extra’ benefits are increasingly becoming the standard for many companies. Which of these benefits are essential and why should you offer them?

Let’s take out the easy question first: you should offer health and financial wellness benefits to your employees for all the reasons you offer 401(k)s and health insurance—to retain workers and breed a culture of caring, respect, and security. Many companies are going above and beyond the standard benefits most employees expect and offering different employee benefits, either on top of the standard or as a replacement. There are now thousands of employee perks and benefit plans being offered to companies for their employees. How do you know which to add and which to stay away from?

What Your Office Needs

More options mean more specialization. You now have more control over which specific benefits you offer your employees. Standard benefits packages for employees came as mostly one-size-fits-all programs in the past, but now you can create customized benefits plans supplemented by smaller office perks and programs to help employees bring their best selves to work every day. That’s really what it’s all about, right?

The most direct and straightforward way to find out what your employees want and need in their benefits packages is to ask them. In a smaller, informal office, you could simply walk around and ask all the employees in turn. In larger, more regimented offices, perhaps a company-wide survey is in order. The survey could be made anonymous, and you can review the data it creates to understand which benefits are the most popular.

Health and Financial Wellness Benefits Examples

There may be extremely useful and beneficial benefits packages and features out there that your employees (or you) don’t know about. A few popular alternative benefits include:

    • Defined contributions and retirement plan administration

Benefits administration companies are building in more control for employees to manage their retirement savings accounts as they see fit. Some are even providing for alternative investment plans and financial advisors to help employees make their own informed decisions about their retirement savings.

    • Debt management

If you have any millennials working at your office, you’ve probably heard them gripe about their student loans. Many companies, in an effort attract more young talent, have started including debt management tools in their financial wellness packages. Of course, everyone has debt, not just millennials.

    • Financial advice

This benefit is similar to debt management, but many workers need help beyond scheduling payments and saving to eliminate their debt. Most average workers making a decent but not extravagant salary (especially younger workers) are intimidated by the term ‘investment portfolio’. They could use some personalized financial advice on what to do with their salary. The Society for Human Resource Management cited advice, in the forms of one-on-one meetings, classroom-style info sessions, or online advising resources, as a useful benefit not enough companies are providing.

    • Health and exercise options

I lumped all the various worker health options beyond health insurance into one list item because I didn’t want to write you all a novel about the options, and because there are new and more creative health and wellness programs being adopted by companies all the time. One of the most common employee health benefit options is the gym membership. This is by no means a ground-breaking option, but it makes it easier for employees to get regular exercise. A good add-on that not many companies do is setting aside time for employees to use their memberships. Tack on an extra half-hour every so often to lunchtime to encourage more gym workouts, for example. Another health benefit companies could offer is a healthy food fund, in which everyone pitches in a little to buy healthy snacks for the office. Any formal health benefit can be supplemented with regular break times, encouraging workers to tear their strained eyes away from their computer screens; or other office activities that encourage healthy habits.

Benefits Benefitting You

You’ll see the positive outcomes of customized, all-encompassing health and financial wellness benefits in your work environment almost immediately. Employees who don’t have to worry as much about their debt and investments will have more energy to worry about making money for the company. Employees who feel healthy and have confidence in themselves because of their healthy lifestyle will perform above expectations. Alternative approaches to health and financial wellness is a worthy investment.

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