Addressing employees’ financial stress can lead to increased productivity and help an employer’s bottom line, just two of the reasons benefit advisers should be working with company C-suites to implement a financial wellness program, says Jeffrey Tulloch, vice president of MetLife PlanSmart.

Many employees spend 12-20 hours per month on financial matters at work, costing employers thousands of dollars a year, he told attendees of Employee Benefit Adviser’s Workplace Benefits Mania recently.

What’s more, employees without current access to financial education say they would be interested in access to it at their workplace, Tulloch says. 

“Financial education needs to be a pillar of employee wellness programs. Modern wellness programs have grown to include many different components. We need to make sure financial wellness is a component. If we can make it a substantial part, we can make a difference,” he says.

Providing effective financial education reduces employee financial stress and improves productivity, Tulloch says, adding that higher productivity leads to higher profits. Improved financial wellbeing for employees also leads to lower turnover, lower health care costs, and lower absenteeism.

“From a company’s perspective, this makes sense,” he says.

Implementation

Implementing a successful financial wellness program requires four key pieces, Tulloch says. The first of which is executive buy in. “Making sure we have the C-suite buying into this program is a necessary part,” he says. “If we have the CEO active in the program and buying into it, promoting it, we’re going to get a different result.”

Second, advisers and their employer clients must work to create a curriculum appropriate to the employee base. “Financial education is not one size fits all,” says Tulloch. “Figuring out what is proper for each employer is a key piece of a successful financial wellness program.”

Education is valuable, but if employees aren’t encouraged to act upon their new knowledge, it’s useless, says Tulloch. That’s why advisers and employers should next facilitate one-on-one meetings with advisers to enable and encourage employees to take action towards financial wellness.

Group meetings and classes provide valuable overall information, he says, but one-on-one meetings enable employee action.

Lastly, every successful financial wellness program should have a strong internal communication strategy. 

When researching financial wellness programs to consider, advisers and employers and their advisers should evaluate whether a program is affordable, credentialed, available nationwide or wherever employees reside, and whether the program execution will be easy, Tulloch advises.

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