Today’s “Must-Have” Employee Benefit: Financial Wellness

Financial Wellness For Employees

Today, the term “wellness” spans a wide range of essential needs, including mental, social, and yes, even financial. What can we do to help our employees improve their financial wellness? Joining us today is Liz Davidson, a leading advocate for fiduciary reform, and a pioneer of the financial wellness movement. She is the author of What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You and she is the CEO and Founder of Financial Finesse, a firm providing millions of Americans with access to unbiased financial guidance through workplace financial wellness solutions. Here, she explains:

  • The importance of Employee Financial Wellness
  • What "financial wellness" means, beyond a retirement plan
  • Why younger generations, especially, are looking for guidance on this topic; and
  • How a new Artificial Intelligence system, called AIMEE, can help!


If you prefer to read along while you listen, we've done all the hard work for you! We listened back to this episode and took notes below, and access is free! 


Employer Responsibility In Financial Wellness

  • Today, employees often see their employer as their “partner” in financial wellness, meaning that the responsibility for employers to provide meaningful benefits and financial security for their employees is more essential now than ever before. 
  • Employee engagement, turnover, and morale all improve when employees feel financially secure, so providing financial wellness is not just a one way street.

The Importance Of Employee Financial Wellness

  • In the Fortune 1000 space, companies are impressively knowledgeable and creative when it comes to recent innovations in employee financial wellness. Not only has the corporate strategy surrounding financial wellness improved over recent years, so has the overall understanding of the concept.
  • The current social justice movement has been influential in highlighting financial disparities between demographics and socioeconomic classes, leading companies to become more aware and more cognizant of their efforts in providing ample and equal financial wellness tools and opportunities to their employees. 
  • There is nothing more important for your employees than ensuring their financial security, especially in the service and other comparable industries. 
  • Employers must take a deep dive into what they are doing in this area for their employees and assess what they are providing for their employees to ensure their financial wellness. 
  • In the past, employers may have looked at an employee's financial situations as “not their business” as long as they provided the benefits and pay that was fit for the job.
    • Now, employers realize that just providing those resources is not enough. Employees should be able to understand, have access to, and be encouraged to take advantage of those benefits.
    • Employers are now beginning to offer services like “benefits planning” in which employees are able to know and understand the foundation benefits the company provides, but it also incorporates secondary benefits such as a financial coach to help employees with personal finances, seminars on how effectively manage money, etc. 

A Look Back

  • In the past, HR Professionals typically focused on ensuring administrative functions are completed, benefits are designed correctly, recruiting strategies are effective, etc.
  • Financial Wellness was commonly considered to be a “good-to-have” rather than a “must-have” benefit.
  • The pandemic has made financial wellness an important initiative for employees and employers alike.

A “Taboo” Topic

  • Employers are often uncomfortable engaging employees in discussions about their personal finances - and there’s a reason for that. When it comes to benefits and investment strategy, discussing personal finances can veer too close to advice which can have legal ramifications.
  • There’s been a shift in that thinking, and people now appreciate a personal touch in financial and other services.
    • This is especially true of younger members of the workforce who may have student loans or other kinds of debt and may want to get ahead of that situation to effectively plan financially for the future. 
  • In dealing with this once-taboo topic, the trust level between coaches/mentors and students/mentees is incredibly important, and the right kind of relationship and communication style helps to develop that trust.

The Benefits Of A Financial Wellness Program

  • When someone is financially stressed, the same mental and physical reactions occur as when they’re in a true emergency situation - except that stress is being released all day long as opposed to at one specific moment.
  • When employees are financially stressed there is a significant dip in morale, engagement, turnover, and productivity.
    • The number one response heard from the financially stressed is: “If only I was paid more, this would go away.”
    • The reality of the situation is often not pay at all (with the exception of minimum wage and low paying occupations) -- it’s how that person is managing their money. 
    • When employees are successfully managing their money and taking advantage of benefits, they tend to feel like their pay is not an issue at all. 

Beyond Retirement Planning

  • Demystifying financial wellness is step one in offering a robust financial wellness benefit plan to your employees. 
  • An individual’s financial wellness consists of meeting the following criteria:
    • Manageable financial stress;
    • Spending below your means;
    • Knowing you’re fully protected in the case of an emergency; and
    • Knowing your goals, having a plan to get there, and staying on track to reach them (only 4% of the population falls into this category)
  • A great financial wellness program views an individual’s financial wellness holistically, and involving “mass personalization”, which creates a program that integrates both technology and human coaching. This allows you to connect with a large number of people, but in a very personal way.
  • Even the smallest benefit offering could have a life-changing effect for one or more of their employees.
  • Of note: If employees are not aware of their benefits, employers will not see any ROI on that offering, so communication is key!

Generational Financial Hardships

  • Younger generations in the workforce are facing, and will continue to face, downward mobility. 
  • The list of skills younger employees will need moving into the workforce will continue to grow over time and that will require much more guidance, coaching, resiliency, and determination. 
  • Society today is so fast-paced, complex, and diverse, it is much harder to stay on top of everything and ensure a positive ROI on financial and experiential investments (college, training, etc.)

Initiating Conversations On Financial Wellness With Employees

  • The mental health movement has been a great revelation in helping certain types of conversations become less stigmatized as negatives, and this includes finances.
  • Once financial wellness is addressed in the same way --  as a life skill and as something that we all need to navigate this world just the same as mental wellness, physical wellness, and emotional wellness, the topic becomes much easier to talk about. 
  • Developing positive financial habits is no different than developing b etter physical, mental, or emotional health habits. If going to the gym is seen as a positive, so then should working on your own personal financial wellness. 

AIMEE (Artificial Intelligence Motivating Employees Everywhere)

  • AIMEE is an artificial intelligence system developed at FInancial Finesse that motivates people to make the correct and smart financial decisions.
  • The system allows the team at Financial Finesse to get to know their clients on a very personal level and allows for the system to push out helpful reminders, tips, tracking, and strategies to improve personal financial wellness each and every day. 
  • Simply put, AIMEE is a virtual financial coach that combines the best aspects of personal coaching and artificial intelligence to improve personal financial wellness.
  • AIMEE feels less invasive and people are more willing to open up about their situation. As an AI, AIMEE allows people to discuss their financial situation in a way that feels safe. 
  • It is built to ease into the conversation and personalized to go as deep or as shallow as desired. 
  • AIMEE does not leave the human element out of the process, through the use of human coaching as well. The emotional aspects and totality of financial wellness is a huge factor in opening up about your situation and having a real person to help out at any point is imperative. Empathy is key to people feeling comfortable about expressing their financial wellness and then building upon that and of course, improving it. 

Financial Finesse

  • Financial Finesse is the largest independent provider of financial wellness & coaching. 
  • Financial Finesse’s offerings are for businesses of all sizes.
  • The company only works with employers, helping them to provide the best financial wellness solutions and benefits offering to their employees.
    • Employees are not sold anything, there is no financial advice given, and there are no sales of financial securities. 
    • The entire business is devoted to what they call “CFL” or “Changing Financial Lives.”
  • The goal of changing financial lives is to provide the most personalized and influential financial wellness training that integrates the company’s benefits that may already be in place. 
  • Through the use of technology, organizations of any size can take advantage of Financial Finesse’s financial wellness offerings. Large corporations may need large, complex systems that cover numerous different situations and topics, while smaller businesses may need something a little less robust and more straightforward. Both of these types of offerings are available and have seen success from business to business.
  • AIMEE is launched via online chat, phone conversations, in-person workshops, and more while integrating the employer’s benefits to provide a comprehensive and robust financial wellness package for employees.
  • Financial Finesse can also provide continual marketing support for the program throughout the life of the partnership. This includes understanding and targeting certain populations of employees that face specific issues to better their financial lives. 
  • These offerings can evolve with the company over time.

Liz Davidson Background

Contact

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About the Author Jacqueline Gregory

As a creative, persuasive communications professional with extensive experience guiding projects from concept through completion Jacqui has produced custom communications for some of the world's best known brands. Producing ProjectHR has been one of her favorite ways to engage and delight HR and Labor Relations professionals!

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