The Missing Ingredient in Your Employee Wellness Program

calendar August 16, 2018

Many companies have instituted employee wellness programs. But employees are still stressed out, and perhaps more than ever. Meanwhile, research shows that employee stress leads to poor health outcomes and an increase in both absenteeism and presenteeism— which are exactly the things employers are looking to prevent.

So what’s going on? Have we been sold a bill of goods on employee wellness programs? Do they not work?

Defining Employee wellness and benefits

When we think of wellness, we tend to think of physical health. As a result, traditional employee wellness programs often center around nutrition, exercise, and disease prevention. And while all of these things are extremely important, this approach only addresses one aspect of employee wellbeing.

Think of wellbeing as a three-legged stool, relying on these critical components:

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Financial health

Physical, emotional, and financial wellness are extremely interconnected, and employee wellbeing is all about keeping the balance. When all of these things are strong, you’ve got a nice, sturdy platform to stand on. But what happens if one of the legs becomes unstable? Remove one leg from the stool and everything falls apart pretty quickly.

Financial stability is critical

Increasing physical fitness is always good, but those 10,000 steps a day aren’t going to pay the rent. And if money is your biggest concern, no amount of exercise is going to ease that financial burden. Or reduce that financial stress.

According to the Stress in America Survey, individuals who are highly stressed about finances are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors to manage their stress. This can impact employers in the form of increased absenteeism and presenteeism, higher risk of accidents, and escalating healthcare costs.

Meanwhile, of the PwC survey respondents who reported feeling stress about their personal finances:

  • 47% said they are either missing work occasionally or that their productivity at work has been impacted by financial worries
  • Half of these employees reported spending three or more hours each week— while at work— dealing with personal financial issues

How can employers help?

Despite all of the evidence pointing to the fact that employee financial concerns are bad for business, employers have been slow to react.

Research from SHRM found that

  • 24% of organizations offered employees online financial/investment advice
  • 27% provided one-on-one advice
  • 22% had options for group or classroom financial advice

With these kinds of numbers, this is an area where you can make a big difference for your staff and your business. Why not lead the charge? Put together a financial wellness program that includes education, assessments, and support.

Imagine the relief you could give your employees if they suddenly didn’t have to spend all day and night worrying about their finances and their futures. It could literally be life changing.

Making employee wellness work

We all know that physical and mental health are closely related. The piece many of us haven’t necessarily connected is the financial one. But time and time again, research shows that financial health is a huge indicator of both physical and mental health.

If you’re not seeing returns on your current employee wellness program, maybe it’s because you haven’t paid enough attention to that critical financial piece.

Give your employees the gift of financial security and they will pay you back in spades.