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How Benefits Brokers Can Advocate for Financial Wellness

James Edwards

Wellness benefits are a top priority for today’s workforce. According to BrightPlan’s 2022 Wellness Barometer Survey, 51% of employees have experienced worsening mental health since the start of the pandemic, 72% are stressed about their finances due to high inflation and market volatility, and one-third of employees have left the workforce due to caregiving responsibilities.

The pandemic brought about sweeping changes to the work environment, the workforce and the broader economy. These changes have contributed to increased employee stress, particularly financial stress in current times. High levels of financial stress impact both mental health and physical well-being. Those reporting financial stress say they lose, on average, 11.4 hours in productivity every week—an amount that translates to more than $4 billion in lost productivity weekly for U.S. employers*.

Brokers are in the ideal position to help their clients find and implement solutions that reduce employees’ financial stress. Here are four ways brokers can advocate for financial wellness:

 

Think “outside the box”

Beyond a traditional 401(k) there are other financial benefits employers can and should offer their workforce to help build long-term financial success. Disability insurance and long-term care are some common options, but younger employees may be more interested in student loan repayment services or emergency savings accounts, for example. Ultimately, what’s right for your client’s workforce is going to be dependent on their employees’ specific needs, and brokers can help their clients assess those needs.

 

Connect DE&I & financial wellness

It’s important for employers to acknowledge that employee well-being is directly affected by diversity and inclusion issues. Finances are the number one cause of stress for employees, especially for those from underrepresented backgrounds who have fewer resources and have been disproportionately affected by job losses stemming from the pandemic. Employers have an opportunity to make a big impact by acknowledging the relationship between financial health and overall well-being when building diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

 

Look to a comprehensive solution

Traditionally, programs such as a 401(k) or pension plan have made up the extent of an employer’s financial wellness offering. While retirement planning is an important component of a financial wellness package, it’s just one element of Total Financial Wellness. A comprehensive program addresses the needs of employees at every stage of life and includes financial education, access to financial planners, and the ability for employees to track and manage finances. It also provides valuable data and insights on the unique and personalized needs of an employer’s diverse workforce, empowering HR leaders to better support their people, demonstrate value and ROI, and improve overall decision-making.

 

Communicate the ROI

Gain insights from aggregated employee data and work with solution provider partners to help demonstrate the return on investment. The Brandon Hall Group found that 89% of employers that track wellness spending see a positive return on investment. Improvements in business outcomes tied to well-being include: employee engagement (81%), retention rate (67%), reduction in burnout (48%), customer satisfaction (48%), customer retention (35%) and profitability (24%), among others. When employees are truly supported in all aspects of their lives, the effect can be felt at all levels of the organization.

 

COVID-19 has underscored the importance of financial wellness and highlighted that employees need support and resources to guide them through uncertain economic times. A comprehensive financial wellness solution can complement an employer’s DE&I initiatives and help educate and guide employees to achieve their life goals—ultimately positively impacting engagement, performance, and productivity.

 
*Disclosure: Assumes there are 97,983,000 knowledge workers in the U.S. with an hourly wage of $36.68. Source: Federal Reserve Economic Dataset, BrightPlan. For more information, see the full report.
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