Earlier this month, in a proclamation that reiterated the importance of equipping everybody with the “knowledge and protections necessary to secure a stable financial future for themselves and their families,” President Obama declared April to be National Financial Capability Month. While the timing of the proclamation makes this a great time to raise general awareness about the importance of financial fitness, businesses have a great opportunity to educate their employees about the importance of financial wellness all year long.
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According to PwC US’s 2016 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 52 percent of respondents said they are stressed about their finances, while 45 percent noted an increase in their stress rate over the last 12 months. After further analysis, researchers determined that the primary cause of the stress is rooted in their inability to deal with unforeseen expenses, such as automobile or home repairs. Combined with the pressure to navigate the growing cost of higher education and the responsibility to saving for retirement, you have the makings for a perfect stress storm.
It’s pretty clear that it’s never been more important to understand the implications positive spending habits have on the wellbeing of our employees. Particularly among millennials, as the PwC study noted that the stress level of this generational group was dramatically worse than the others due to the increased level of student debt felt by this age group.
Furthermore, there is a clear correlation between an employee’s stress rate due to financial hardship and reduced productivity, higher healthcare costs, increased risk of occupational fraud and lower retirement readiness. Even in this recent study, as reported by Accounting Today, 79 percent of millennials in the workforce say “their student loans have a moderate or significant impact on their ability to meet their other financial goals.”
Employers are in a position to make financial wellness a priority before the stress workers are feeling has a chance to boil over and impact the company’s bottom line. Similar to the information and incentives your company provides with regard to wellness programs aimed at improving employee health, financial wellness programs are available to employers who are willing to step in and help their employees achieve greater financial success. Some methods are free and some have costs associated with them, but regardless of what you choose, the most effective programs are those that take a more holistic approach.
Darlene Finzer, CPA, QKA, CSA, a principal and director of benefit plan audit services at Rea & Associates spoke about financial wellness on episode 19 of unsuitable on Rea Radio. The episode, called “It Starts with a Penny,” does a great job explaining the importance of financial wellness, the risks employers should be aware of that could result from high levels of financial stress and solutions to help get your workforce on the right track. You can listen to the episode in the media player below or click here to access the episode, financial calculators and additional resources.
By Kimberly Veal, CPA (Lima office)