Taking the Temperature of Health and Financial Wellness Programs

Joetta L. Wagner | | Health and Wellness

health and financial wellness; employee engagement

When it comes to well-being in the workplace, which extends to one’s personal life, there are two key points to consider. One is an employee’s health. The other point is an employee’s financial health. When the two are put together, the result is a useful health and financial wellness program and a better-run company.

A Closer Look at Health and Financial Wellness Nationwide

How far are health and wellness initiatives reaching? Everywhere. This is, in part, a response to millennials, who value a balance of work and play, healthiness and happiness. In a recent letter to Brown University alumni, President Christina Paxson noted “…because the physical, mental and emotional well-being of our students is essential to their academic success, the University has begun planning and design for a pioneering health and wellness center [that] will bring together Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Brown Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and BWell health promotion.”

Why?

 

The two ideas – physical and financial health – haven’t been front and center for most organizations for a long time. Ensuring positive outcomes has, for years, been wholly relegated to the HR department. Dr. William R. Tracey (d. 2015), the human resources president of a consulting firm, penned the definitive guide to what HR is all about. He observed in his HR magnum opus The Human Resources Glossary as "The people that staff and operate an organization.” This was in contrast with a company’s financial and material resources. Now, the perspective has shifted. This is due, in part, to the realization that employees are a primary, yet intangible asset. The influx of millennials has refocused businesses on the concept of a balance between work and personal lives. As noted by business and finance writer Cam Merritt with The Houston Chronicle, the human assets of a company don’t show up on the balance sheet, but are actually worth more than services or products.

C-level managers are realizing this in their employee communications initiatives. They’re also realizing that working towards every employee’s physical and fiscal health has very tangible results.

Think About This

Forbes contributor Naz Behestzi notes employee wellness issues moving front and center. She cites some thought-provoking statistics about the link between good health and financial wellness and an organization’s bottom line. Here are the top five:

  • Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. Employee engagement means that people don’t just “show up” for work. They like the work they do, and show up with energy and excitement. In fact, companies that score in the top 20% of employee engagement practices experience 59% lower turnover and a 41% reduction in absenteeism.
  • 89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes. When people are recognized for their value to the company, and aided in areas that need improvement, the company will have tangible benefits in the bottom line.
  • Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. As a Salesforce report notes, engaged employees aid productivity. And engagement at this juncture means wellness on all levels.
  • 96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention. How simple and important is that? The ability to share another’s feelings. That affects everything from productivity to profitability. And virtually everyone sees a need for empathy in the workplace.
  • Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year. When the corporate culture is indifferent to an employee’s needs, fails to provide clear leadership, lacks internal employee communications pipelines and doesn’t foster trust in business relationships, people simply don’t care. That wholly affects the bottom line.

What’s the Deal with Financial Wellness Programs?

According to a 2018 study conducted by the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, employers and employees aren’t on the same page. While both employees (91%) and employers (95%) agree financial wellness is important, employers and employees are miles apart. Here’s a new set of sobering statistics:

  • 48% of employees are offered financial wellness plans, but only 31% of that number participate
  • 38% of employees feel financially unwell
  • Short-term goals dominate the lives of the financially unwell, the biggest of which (44%) is managing debt. Those of the healthy ilk attend to long-term goals, such as preparing for retirement (38%), developing good savings habits (39%) and living within one’s means (37%).
  • While 71% of employees claim to understand how health savings plans (HSAs) work, only 12% can actually identify such a plan’s attributes.
  • Although 30% of employers have formal feedback in place to assess the worthiness of a financial wellness plan, 70% don’t have any measurements or metrics in place to evaluate the plan.

Ouch.

Human Resources: The Cornerstone of a Well World

It’s interesting to consider the evolution of HR in the evolution of the workplace. Once upon a time, Human Resources occupied a very narrow function in business. Now, the dynamic, constantly shifting business world asks much more from HR. Look at what our company offers employees. Work towards bringing a holistic approach to a company. When you implement health and financial wellness programs, everybody wins.

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