If you want a financial wellness program to be effective, you need to know the types of money issues that are causing your staffers the most stress.
To that end, a new study by GOBankingRates.com uncovered the financial stressors that impact people the most.
The study, which compiled reasons from more than 7,000 respondents, asked participants from all 50 states plus Washington, DC, to choose the top sources of financial stress from a list of seven choices.
From debt to day-to-day expenses
Here are the results from the study:
- Paying off debt (cited by 20.6% of respondents)
- Not being able to retire (15.6%)
- Not having enough money to survive an emergency (15.6)
- Wanting a nicer lifestyle (14%)
- Paying for education (13.1%)
- Lack of stable income (11.7), and
- Paying mortgage or rent (9.4%).
It’s worth noting that “Paying off debt,” was cited as the sole top source of financial stress in 32 states and was tied for first in Rhode Island (tied with lack of stable income), Maine (tied with not being able to retire) and New Hampshire (tied with not having enough money to survive an emergency)
These findings could help HR pros decide what their own financial wellness programs should focus on.
In addition, you may want to conduct an in-house study to see how your employees’ financial issues align with the ones from the study.
A common pitfall
There’s a good reason financial wellness has become such a hot-button issue for employers: More than a quarter (28%) of employees said financial issues have been a distraction at work, according to a separate 2016 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). That’s a 20% increase from PWC’s 2015 findings.
While an increasing number of employers are turning to financial wellness to help employees with their personal money issues, in many cases, firms are missing the mark.
And a big part of the ineffectiveness of financial wellness program lies in the design of the program. Often financial wellness is seen as a part of a company’s retirement plan, which turns many workers off.
Reason: Because they’re dealing with day-to-day financial issues, retirement planning isn’t a priority.
To ensure your financial wellness program is effective, Linda Robertson, a senior resident financial planner at Financial Finesse, urges employers to take the following steps regarding financial wellness:
- Institutionalize it, or roll it into the overall wellness strategy
- Brand it (come up with a communication plan that makes the program stand out)
- Create champions (i.e., get upper management involved), and
- Make financial wellness part of all of your benefits communications. Like health-management programs, year-round communication is a must with financial wellness.