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The Financial Wellness Revolution

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Originally posted on Huffington Post.

Companies are investing in their employees now more than ever. A company’s most valuable asset is its people, and their overall wellness not only increases productivity and happiness at the office but it’s also a key factor in attracting and retaining top talent. Weekly massages, meditation classes and fitness challenges are benefits that have become more and more common in companies that are considered great places to work. It’s all about employee wellness!

What is wellness?

Merriam-Webster defines wellness as the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought after goal. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress Snapshot, 31% and 32% of adults surveyed report that stress has a negative impact on their physical and mental health, respectively. Money is the number one source of stress reported. Since 2007 the survey has shown that 67% of Americans are stressed out about money, beating out categories like work and family responsibilities.

It makes a lot of sense that companies who have invested in a financial wellness program have received a 300% return on their investment. Studies have shown that companies earn up to $3 for every $1 invested in employee financial wellness but I believe that the impact can be much greater.

What is financial wellness?

Financial wellness is maximizing your economic life, holistically. It is inextricably linked to our overall health and well-being. Money touches every single aspect of our lives, and when we experience money stress it negatively impacts our physical and mental health, relationships, goals, hobbies and work product. When we are financially well, we experience power and freedom in every area of our lives.

What can companies do?

Given the current focus on employee well-being, wellness has become a buzzword. To create an effective and impactful financial wellness program, we can’t just slap on the word “wellness” to the description of the current program and call it a day. We have to truly incorporate wellness into the fabric of the program itself. Retirement programs, health savings accounts, pre-tax benefits and workshops are all important components of a successful financial wellness program, but there is so much more that we can be doing.

Programs should and can be tailored to an individual’s goals and values while integrating the emotional and behavioral side of money into the educational programming. This has a far greater impact and result than focusing on the numbers alone. Financial wellness programs can also have many ancillary benefits. We can build a community that fosters a powerful conversation around wealth and supports employee financial decisions and goals. Friendly competition, team building, charity and giving, accountability and, dare I say, fun, are all important pillars of a successful program.

The Impact

This type of financial wellness program will create tremendous value for the employees and the company. Employee participation will increase dramatically, as will the results. Employees will expand their lifestyles while making greater progress towards their goals — all within their current salaries. They will experience less stress around their personal finances and companies will have happier and more productive employees who take fewer sick days and feel a sense of community at work. Financial wellness is an integral part of overall wellness, and it’s time to transform the current offering to something far more powerful. Trendsetting companies who do will reap the benefits.

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