How many of your employees are on sick leave as a result of financial stress? Is there a responsibility for employers to know this? And if they had this insight, what could and should they do about it?
You see, there is growing research to support this trend: Bank of America’s 2020 Workplace Benefits Report notes that 62 percent of employers feel “extremely” responsible for their employees’ financial wellness.
We all know that absenteeism – whatever the cause – has a significant impact on business. Many consultants, HR pros, and other executives can quote various absenteeism stats, but how many of us can quote the stats for absenteeism due to financial stress?
Add to this: We know the unprecedented pandemic and its ongoing consequences have added to money stress for many.
Manifestations of money stress
The effects of employee financial stress may include everything from arguing, trouble sleeping, feeling angry or fearful, mood swings, tiredness, loss of appetite, and withdrawal from others. Of more concern for organizations, without intervention, financial stress can lead to unproductive and potential rogue behavior. From unintentional misuse of company resources to outright misappropriation.
Financially sound at work
And it’s not just limited to absenteeism. Money-related stress can also lead to employees coming to work despite being physically or mentally unwell. They may be distracted, unfocused, and where machinery or other physical aspects are involved, a danger to themselves and others.
Therefore, the need for financial wellness is clear, but what role should an employer have in this? Financial stress rose for many people during the pandemic, and it’s not unusual to hear of employers feeling responsible for their employees’ financial wellness.
A cynic might think employers need to ensure a full quota of staff available for productivity. Still, from the identity conversations – assessing core strengths as they align with your identity, gifts, and brand – we’ve been having over the past several months, altruism is emerging as the employer winner. (In their simplest form, think of DNA Behavior’s identity conversations as helping individuals identify and leverage their superpower.)
Leaders are investing in financial wellness programs. They are responsible for asking the tough questions and looking to the financial services industry to deliver effective employee wellness programs they as leaders can implement.
Organizations want their employees to be financially sound and free from financial worries. And yes, it will:
- Strengthen productivity, as financial worries don’t sidetrack employees.
- Reduce expensive employee attrition.
- Give rise to improved physical and mental health.
- Increase employee engagement and retention, as you are known as being a caring company.
As more industry leaders seek employee financial wellness solutions, financial institutions can support them and their people by delivering focused quality education programs that address every level of financial challenge an employee might be facing.
But there is an essential first step: to uncover how individuals make financial decisions at a deeper level. Unknowingly, even. How are they hard-wired, for better and for worse, to deal with money and money decisions? Given that a financial wellness program must focus on the employee, it should clearly understand behavior and money insights, as well as the individuality of every employee.
Human behavior awareness drives financial wellness, by enabling employers to understand employees’ unique needs. (Also enabling employees to better understand their own innate money behaviors.) Simply integrating a financial behavior data-gathering questionnaire into existing technology tools begins to build in and leverage employee spending habits, cognitive-behavioral biases, financial decision making, goal motivations, and, importantly, their financial emotional intelligence.
A resource that can provide an organization with the behavioral component of its financial wellness program also is likely to be able to partner to educate your workforce through workshops, e-learning, and other options that improve their financial education.
The bottom line will improve for organizations building ongoing financial wellness education programs. It decreases personal financial stress and improves employee wellbeing, health, and productivity. Likewise, the financial aspects of an employee’s job also will be smoother and less at risk due to the former money-stress connection.
Without a doubt, this is an employee program that is a win-win, as both organizations and their team members benefit, on and off the job. Especially so if it is a robust program with behavioral inputs that, again, are a win-win.
I am always interested in creative ways organizations – especially financial ones – are incorporating financial wellness programs into their culture and systems. Please reach out if you have, know of or want to chat about such programs.
See Leon’s other writings for Nasdaq here.