Tips on Starting a Successful Financial Wellness Program
If you are a CEO, president, executive director or otherwise a leader with executive authority in your organization and would like to implement a financial wellness program in your organization, you may not be sure where to start or what to include. The steps outlined below are easy to implement and can be impactful from day one. With financial wellness programs still being relatively new to most leaders, it can be easy to get lost in the process of finding a provider with the right services in the right location at the right time and for the right price.
A good place to start your search, not surprisingly, is with your current benefits provider or broker. They often have partnerships with national providers of financial counseling. However, such counseling is too often limited to some online printables or to some downloadable budget forms.
As you do an online search for more robust financial wellness programs, you might include keywords such as “financial wellness benefits provider,” in addition “free,” “credit,” “debt,” “counseling,” retirement,” and even “nonprofit.”
Here are a few steps to consider as you get started:
1. Survey Your People
No matter how slick or highly developed a financial wellness program may be, it will not be successful if it is not what your people want or need. Start by finding out what your employees, members, or colleagues really want in a financial wellness program. Keep in mind that due to the sensitive and very personal nature of household money management, your employees and members are unlikely to tell you directly that they could use assistance with budgeting, debt elimination or saving for goals. They are more likely to tell you that 401(k) and credit building counseling are what they want, because these topics are less threatening and less embarrassing to them.
Consider using an anonymous survey tool, such as Survey Monkey, to find out what financial wellness needs your people truly have. Give them a list of various options and ask them to rate each of them from 1-5, with 1 being Unimportant and 5 being Very Important. Make sure that you incorporate any option receiving 5s, even if the average rating for that option is very low. For example, if just 20% of your people rated “Budget Counseling” a 5 and the rest rated it a 1, the average will be very low (1.8 or 36%). Just because 80% of your employees are doing very well with their personal budgets does not mean your organization would not benefit from including budget counseling. Twenty percent of your people are asking for it, meaning that 20% of them might increase their productivity and job satisfaction, or loyalty to your organization if you include this counseling option in your financial wellness program.
2. Lunch ‘n’ Learns
Ask your financial wellness benefits provider if they offer any lunch ‘n’ learn programs. If they are local, they should be willing to come into your office to facilitate a free 30- to 45-minute workshop on building credit, on getting out of debt, on teaching kids how to be financially responsible or on some other topic. If the provider does not have a local representative, ask about remote lunch ‘n’ learn options using online meeting and webinar software. Be aware, though, that less than 5% of your people are likely to attend unless one or more of the following happen: 1) you require attendance, 2) you offer a free meal and babysitting (if after hours), or 3) you let everyone know ahead of time that you are going to attend yourself, and that you hope to see them there.
3. Let Your HR Professionals Play with a Pilot Program
Ask the potential financial benefits provider for a trial period or a limited free number of accounts. Then ask your HR department to test out the benefits for a month and report to you on their experience. You might even form an employee or board committee to test and report on the program.
4. Add It to Your Intranet
If your organization has an employee intranet, a client extranet, or a members-only page, such would be great places to list your financial wellness benefits programs.
5. Hang a Poster in Your Break Room
Financial wellness benefits providers should understand the value of hanging posters in break rooms, so ask them for a full-color version. In many companies, employers are much more likely to notice and access information available on a lunchroom poster than they are to visit an employee intranet.
6. Add It to Your Orientation
If you hold employee, member or client orientation meetings and pass out important materials to help get them situated and comfortable with your organization’s policies and practices, adding a financial wellness benefits flyer seems like a no brainer. As the financial wellness benefits provider to mail you some full-color flyers that list the benefits involved and how to access them.
7. Highlight It in Your Newsletter, Email Marketing and Social Media Posts
Whether you have a printed newsletter, an e-zine, or just use social media to connect with your employees, customers, or members, adding a column about newly available financial wellness benefits will build their appreciation for and trust in you and your organization.
Pick any one or more of the above steps to implement, and you are already well on your way to providing a valuable and innovative (and often free) benefit to your people. In the short run, you may save a few of them a great deal of heartache and frustration. In the long run, you are likely to save your organization and yourself much of the same by building your people and creating a culture of “personal responsibility” and “success.” Now those are keywords any leader would like to see more often!