I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t raised in an environment where much of anything was given to me. In my world, Financial Wellness meant our check didn’t bounce when we went to the grocery store or having to go to a different grocery store where we hadn’t bounced a check in a while! Luckily, my kids have no idea what it means to ‘bounce’ a check!
That is one of our challenges as HR pros to define Financial Wellness. For some of us, having the bills paid means we have financial wellness, for others, having the means to go on that annual trip to Florida means we have financial wellness. Some of your employees feel they have financial wellness, while others, in the same capacity, would feel on the verge of financial ruin!
Financial wellness, by definition, is a program or set of programs designed to improve employees’ financial behavior and outcomes while also driving business impact. Basically, it’s helping to ensure, the best we can, that our employees aren’t overly concerned with their personal money issues, that it impacts their work performance. An organization provides a good financial wellness program so that it can have happy and productive employees, who help drive great financial results for the organization.
Why do we as HR Pros need to care about our employees Financial Wellness?
In the history of HR, we really didn’t. Sure there were some empathetic HR Pros who cared about someone going through a tough time, but rarely did HR, in the most well-meaning sense, ever want to touch the personal finance issues of an employee! Mostly, we would listen, try and pawn them off on the Employee Assistance Program, and hope it all went away.
The expectations of how we work with our employees, especially concerning things that impact their performance, have changed drastically over the past few years. The great recession is probably the main culprit for this mind-shift. We went through a part of our history where having financial issues, wasn’t rare, it was the norm for so many of our employees. Organizationally, we had to find ways to help our employees cope, get better and stay productive.
What we learned, through all of this, was that HR can make a huge difference in our employees quality of life. Having a great quality of life means that employees will stay around longer. Longer tenured employees, who love their jobs and feel supported, mean better overall outcomes for your organization.
The best HR leaders are now keenly aware of the organization’s bottom line, and what programs have a positive impact financially. Financial Wellness is one of those programs that drive overall better organizational financial performance, which makes it one of those programs HR pros need to care about, and need continue to drive across their organization.
Financial Wellness isn’t an easy program to just go and launch. We still live in a culture where talking about your finances, especially when things aren’t going well, is an extremely hard conversation to have. None of us want to admit we did a bad job managing our finances, and now we are in trouble. This is why HR is in a great position to own financial wellness and help employees. We are trained to be able to handle these types of situations and help our employees.
I joke about growing up in a family that bounced checks at the grocery store. I can do that now since I’m far from that scenario, but it was soul crushing to be a kid and have your mom handing you items to go put back on shelves because we couldn’t afford them. You have employees who are doing this. They need your help. They don’t need a handout, they need the knowledge to change their situation forever.
(By the way, if you’d like to hear me, and my special guest Laurie Ruettimann, get even more passionate and detailed about this topic, don’t miss the free webinar I’m hosting with ALEX, March 8th at 2pm EST. It’s called “Show Me the Money (Tips)! Six Ways to Improve Your Financial Wellness Program!” P.S. You’ll get an amazing Financial Wellness Communication playbook from ALEX as part of the deal too. A twofer!)