Why Financial Wellness Programs are Moving Center Stage

company culture
This month, three big stories about money hit in rapid-fire succession:

  • Student debt is way worse than we imagined: five-figure amounts are the average, and the default rate is higher than we think.
  • Millennials have little disposable income: $1.5 trillion in collective debt (not to mention skyrocketing rent) leaves little for food and fun
  • Retirement for a lot of folks is in jeopardy: The title of the story ("After using their 401(k)s as a piggy bank, workers fret for the future") says it all.
The message: it's tough out there in personal finance land. The other message: it's also tough out there for employers since, according to a PWC study, money worries cost them too - in employees' health problems, lost productivity, and distraction.

In the wise words of Bright Horizons' Ellen Oliver: yikes.

"When people are under water, they can't think straight," wrote Ellen. "That hangs people up more than health or relationships - and it's leaving a mark on bottom lines."

Financial Wellness Programs in the Spotlight

The fiscal worries are moving financial wellness programs into the spotlight. And these days, such benefits have gained considerable clout. The same PWC study assessing the impact of financial instability says financial wellness programs rank as the most desirable benefits people don't already have. And no wonder. Studies show that only about a third of people keep a budget. Worse, among the indebted, most don't even know how much they owe. All that makes it no surprise that employer financial wellness programs are on the rise - up more than 300% in two years.

As with any benefit programs, ROI means knowing exactly what your employees need - and why. Debt-saddled new grads are likely hungry for student debt repayment. Older employees might need advice to wrangle debt from years - or even decades - ago. For some people, just removing the mystery of those bank statements can reap rewards. What's not in doubt is how far such benefits reach.

"Everybody has money, "wrote Ellen, "and except for the select few in the .00001%, everybody worries about money management.

"That means financial wellness benefits touch about every person in your workforce."
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
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