Over the last several months, I have written about communication with employees and some of the disservices the industry are driving at participants. With open enrollment season for employee benefits upon us, I thought I would take a step back and discuss a little bit about financial wellness. Companies spend a lot of time rolling out their health and wellness initiatives, but how many are actually looking at another part of the wellness their participants need: the financial side of it?
The stress that various financial issues can have can also impact an employees work life just as much and may trigger other health issues caused by the financial stress. Employers will be filling up the mail boxes of their employees over the next several months with this notice and that notice, but how much of it is actually read or used? What can employers do to help with the financial wellness of their employees?
Liz Davidson, CEO of Financial Finesse, a well-known provider of financial wellness services, has specific steps employers can follow to create a successful program. These include:
- Study demographic data about your employees in order to understand them.
- Target communications to specific topics and groups. Not one communication plan fits all employees and you may need to have several different communication messages to reach everyone.
- Use several methods of communications (such as emails, printed materials, posters) to publicize the program. It is a new era and you may need to think outside the box as the younger generation is communicating differently today. Texting and social media as part of communicating to a younger age group may help engage them.
- Beware of overwhelming employees with too much information. Small pieces of information over time are better than a lot all at once. It is the repetitive piece that makes the biggest impact.
- Offer education and specific action steps that employees can take. This is one of the most important pieces, but you have to make it easy for employees to engage in it otherwise it will get lost in the shuffle.
- A system that acknowledges when progress is made and when milestones are reached is also important to keep employees on track and engaged in the system. You have to get ball rolling, and sometimes its the little things that make the difference to the next step.
- Davidson says that the key is the employers demonstration of its commitment to helping employees reach financial wellness. Employers need to build a communication plan around financial wellness just like they do their health plan options. With open enrollment of the health plans around us we need to rethink how we engage the employee with their retirement plan. We need to take steps to reengage our employee communications plans because doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result may not work long term to helping drive employees financial wellness or helping them become successful in reaching their goal even if they do not know what that goal is today.
Ludwig, ChFC, AIF, CRPS, is an LPL Financial advisor with LHD Retirement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This information was developed as a general guide to educate plan sponsors, but is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax or legal advice. Each plan has unique requirements, and you should consult your attorney or tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation. In no way does advisor assure that, by using the information provided, plan sponsor will be in compliance with ERISA regulations.
Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.
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