Personal Finance

Engaging Employees Toward Greater Financial Wellness

Observing stock activity at a desk

More financial advisors should be proactive in encouraging corporate clients to establish employee wellness programs which can be invaluable for employees. Successful employee financial wellness programs should include financial education and coaching from the financial advisor, which is a win-win-win, for advisor, employer and employees.

Consider these recent comments by Jim Harter, chief scientist of Gallup's international workplace management and wellbeing practices, and author of its annual employee-engagement survey:

Companies that rank in the top 10 percent in engaging their employees…posted profit gains of 26 percent through the last recession, compared with a 14 percent decline at comparable employers…. The tight labor market is raising the bar. Coveted employees simply aren’t all that interested in working for companies that don’t give them the level of trust and motivation they want.

I would go further and add that as uncertainty is a greater economic consideration, employees are worried about their financial well-being. And leaders have a responsibility to consider the financial well-being of their people.

They need to understand employees’ lives and career motivations, goals, spending habits and overall decision-making biases in order to empower them to achieve a greater level of financial wellness. Employees who are less worried about the economic future will perform better at work.

Talking about money has always been a closed topic. Financial problems can be a source of stress and shame for employees. Not only does it impact family relationships, but – and this might be tough to consider – it can cause rogue behavior within the organization.

Now, I am not saying that every employee who faces financial stress is going to divert assets from your organization. More often you’ll see increased absenteeism, preoccupation that results in lack of productivity and increased job transiency (they will leave you unnecessarily); issues an organization may have seen simply as HR-related.

A leader who tackles financial wellness openly by introducing well thought out programs can lift the veil on this sensitive subject and encourage employees to engage in these programs.

It’s important to be honest about the intentions of the financial wellness programs. While it’s a leader’s responsibility to want to enhance their employees lives, it’s also true to say that happy, debt free, wealth-creating employees will make the company more successful. It’s a win-win.

More than half of all employees want to make their own financial decisions but are looking to have someone validate those decisions. Employees want a financial wellness benefit with access to unbiased counselors and help understanding and using their benefits. So access to a financial advisor is critical to the success of financial wellness programs.

One important consideration for any employee wellness program: How well do you know your people? If understanding employees’ financial personalities was part of the hiring process, financial wellness programs could be more effectively targeted to help the employee.

The next generation of employee financial wellness program has two core components which have a behavioral foundation based on initially discovering the participant’s natural behavioral style – the core of who they are:

  1. Talent Management for Career and Financial Growth is focused on the employee having a productive career path based on what they are passionate about and being in the right role which they can personally and financially grow in.
  2. Financial Behavioral Management for Financial Life Growth is focused on the employee defining realistic financial life goals and desired life experiences for the building of a Quality Life. Then designing a financial plan (including investments) to achieve those goals. A key aspect of this component is management of risk, investments, spending and emotions.

There is only good in this approach – providing engaging financial wellness programs leads to less stressed and more highly engaged workers. Behaviorally smart leaders understand this, and the evidence is to be found in the success of their businesses. (As is often noted by Mr. Harter of Gallup.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Hugh Massie

Hugh Massie is a global pioneer in the practical application of behavioral insights. A reformed CPA and serial entrepreneur, Hugh has since 2001 focused his efforts on his role as CEO and Founder of Atlanta-based DNA Behavior International. The company and its network, online and off, transform businesses through behavioral technologies that create customized experiences for employees and clients, especially focusing on the financial sector, from mid-sized financial advisory firms to fund managers to major international banks to government agencies.

Read Hugh's Bio