The reality is that financial wellness programs can be “proved in” with fairly conservative assumptions. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says employers typically see a return of $3 for every $1 spent on financial wellness programs. Yet a more effective way to prove the program’s value is by measuring employee engagement.
It’s time to change the ROI conversation. HR practitioners excel at knowing how employees utilize their benefits options, accepted methods of learning more about an organizational topic and what employees look for when they need help. This practical knowledge provides an opportunity for the benefits department to share strategic insights with the C-suite, helping executives reframe how they view the value of financial wellness programs.
A better measure of success
Most workforce populations cross several generations with varying perspectives on personal finance. They also consume information differently. To engage them, leading organizations craft a multidimensional program and formulate a targeted communications plan to foster awareness and push employees to action. With those core components in place, employee engagement can then be measured.
The process starts with knowing your employee base — age, career stage and income ranges. But fostering engagement depends on more than demographics. It requires a deeper understanding of workforce psychographics — how employees think and feel about money.
- What are their money habits?
- How satisfied are they with their current personal financial situation?
- Do financial concerns affect their family relationships?
- How much time do they spend worrying about their personal financial situation?
A financial wellness assessment can help uncover these more subjective beliefs and enable you to craft targeted communications to inspire action.
Personalized learning paths, access to trusted resources and targeted communications are the foundation of a comprehensive financial wellness program. But our survey revealed the selection criteria varies among those who already offer a program and those who don’t.
Selection criteria for non-adopters:
Selection criteria for current providers:
- Employee communications
Those who have yet to offer a program focus on cost, which shows that justifying the price — the hallmark of ROI — remains a stumbling block for some. But looking to the market to see what other companies — especially competitors — are doing will yield insights on how to justify these programs. Once a program is in place, the focus shifts and becomes more about employee engagement across the breadth of the program.
An integrated, multichannel program that is objective, easy to use, well publicized and personalized will best serve employees and help with engagement.
Each touch point of a comprehensive, integrated program should include handoffs from one action to the next to minimize interruption of the financial planning process. For instance, a group learning session should introduce a related learning tool, video or invitation to speak with a financial planner. This approach teases out a continuous learning experience, versus the start and stop of siloed activities, and yields stronger metrics of interaction.
Unlike the third-party data needed to calculate ROI, these metrics come directly from the wellness program making them accessible and more accurately correlated to program performance.
Participation = ROI
It’s understandable that organizations need to measure the impact of their investment in employee benefits. Creating a suite of benefits is futile if your workforce doesn’t use the resources to forge a path to financial wellness. But changing the conversation from metrics-driven assessment to measuring levels of healthy utilization will give leaders a new perspective on the value of their spend.
Financial wellness is a lifelong effort. The more guidance your employees receive, the more likely they are to learn and put financial constructs into action. Targeted education, access to personalized learning paths and support from trained financial professionals ultimately lead to employees who are engaged in their financial lives.
As employees become more active in financial planning, they build the confidence they need to continue their financial wellness journey. Alleviating financial stress clears the way for more productive workers and ultimately yields a higher return on investment.