The results are in on the first annual EBN-EBA Financial Fitness Challenge, and they are impressive. Small but mighty River City Bank in Sacramento, Calif., took top honors in this year's event, with hard-charging City of Savannah, Ga., close behind. However, all of the employers participating were winners when it came to increasing their employees' financial knowledge and well-being.

The Financial Fitness Challenge is a unique online financial education program offered to employers through a partnership between Employee Benefit News, its sister publication, Employee Benefit Adviser, and Educated Investor, creator of online courses in personal finance. The 2012 Challenge was sponsored by Set for Life.

This year, 15 small and large employers from the private and public sectors were chosen to compete. The goal was to get a designated number of employees to complete five online financial education courses and to track the improvement in their financial fitness. HR-benefits executives in each organization designed communications and incentive programs to motivate their "players," who included managers, executives, field sales and service reps, shift workers, administrative support staff, retail sales and service people, health care providers, and marketing and product design professionals.

 

The results

By the end of the Challenge, some 2,500 employees completed more than 10,000 hours of coursework, significantly increasing their financial fitness in the process. On average, participants spent just over four hours learning and improved their financial knowledge by 30%, with a 67% pre-test and an 88% post-test score. The average "graduation" rate from the course series across the 15 employers was 70%.

Rich Hunt, director of retirement services in the New York-based MLB Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, was one of the first to enroll his organization in the Financial Fitness Challenge.

"This has been a great experience, and the feedback that I have received has been very positive," he says.

Employees who participated also have been enthusiastic. Tanya Asaro, employee training coordinator for the City of Savannah, credits the Financial Fitness Challenge with helping her right her savings ship.

"After completing the Financial Fitness Challenge, I realized how many years and how much money I had lost out on because of not contributing a mere $10 a pay period to [the city's retirement plan]. I have lost out on thousands of dollars that could have been set away for my retirement; however, I have rectified the situation and will make sure that I contribute each month so I may comfortably retire at the age of 57."

Valerie Dietrich, who works with Hunt at Major League Baseball, praised the courses. "This online program allows you to participate on your schedule, is laid out in simple terms, uses common everyday examples and outlines for you how to best plan for a solid financial future."

As the link between employees' financial wellness and overall health has become clearer, more employers are implementing financial education programs.

A survey conducted this year by EBN and the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation showed that half of employers are offering some form of financial education.

PFEEF states that financial wellness programs provide a 3-to-1 return in reduced turnover, absenteeism and health costs. L

 

 

2012 CHALLENGE CHAMPS

The organizations that participated in the Financial Fitness Challenge were designated Bronze, Silver or Gold winners for getting 25%, 50% or 75% of their participants to complete the full five-hour course.

Plus, a special Platinum-level award was given to River City Bank for having 90% or more of their entire employee pool complete the whole program. Senior Vice President and Human Resources Director Victoria Nolan and President/CEO Stephen Fleming motivated workers with an Olympics-themed communication program for the Challenge that was deemed the best of this year's event. (Read about River City Bank's winning efforts in the September issue of EBA.) Here are the organizations that competed for nationwide bragging rights in the 2012 EBN-EBA Financial Fitness Challenge and their place on "medal platform:"

 

PLATINUM AWARD WINNER

River City Bank

 

GOLD AWARD WINNERS

City of Savannah
Major League Baseball
Wisconsin Employee Trust Fund

 

SILVER AWARD WINNERS

Dex One
Fidelity National Financial
Franklin International
Fred C. Church Insurance
Kimberly-Clark
OCLC
St. Elizabeth Healthcare
Taylor Corp
Teknion
Vermont Hard Cider

 

BRONZE AWARD WINNER
JHP Pharmaceuticals

 

Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 EBN-EBA Financial Fitness Challenge. To learn more about it, register for an informational webinar at www.financialfitnesschallenge.com/ebn or contact us at info@educatedinvestor.com or (888) 345-1285.

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