wellness programs

The Unexpected Connection Between Financial & Physical Wellness

Cathy Siska COO

Rick Shounia
Chief Financial Officer

While the benefits of workplace wellness programs are widely known, many employers don’t realize how closely connected financial wellness is to physical wellness. Employees who struggle with financial issues often have less focus, an unhealthier lifestyle and higher medical costs.

Incorporating a financial component to your wellness program is a no-brainer that your business budget and employees will appreciate.

Finances and Health go Hand in Hand

Financial problems are consistently the highest source of stress and can cause anxiety, frustration, and feelings of hopelessness. This stress that many endure can lead to or exacerbate health problems. High levels of stress can contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stomach disorders, among other conditions. In addition, high stress can lead to behaviors that are a known risk to physical health such as excessive drinking, binge eating, and smoking.

The overwhelming and consuming feeling that financial troubles cause leads to trouble sleeping, moodiness, and generally seeming run down. People suffering these effects may be more likely to neglect their own health care and become stuck in a terrible cycle.

In the Workplace

Like any stressful situation, financial burdens can cause an employee to have poor attendance, attitude, and performance at work. This leads to lower productivity, more carelessness, and even stress on other employees. On top of this, your company may experience higher turnover from financially stressed employees.

How to Help

As an employer, you can help your employees with their financial problems and improve their financial situations. Many employees have little knowledge about managing finances, so simply offering a variety of educational opportunities can be a huge benefit. Education may include simple marketing materials, online resources, regular lunch and learn events, etc.

If you offer an Employee Assistance Program, you may already have access to a wide range of services both educational and even financial counseling. Additional counseling or advice may also be available through your 401(k) provider. Check out our other ideas below:

  • Educational Materials: Utilize a range of different communication materials from handouts, posters, emails, text messages, social media posts, video, etc.

  • Lunch & Learn Events: Bring in financial experts or ask your existing financial vendors for assistance in presenting relevant topics for your employees and be sure to cater in a healthy lunch.

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The benefits of EAPs go far beyond financial wellness-they can also help with legal problems, addiction, child or eldercare, crisis intervention, divorce/marital issues and more.

  • 401(k) program: Saving for retirement is a significant concern for many people, offering an employer-sponsored 401(k) gives your employees convenience and peace of mind. Take it up a notch and offer a matching contribution increasing the value and attraction of this benefit.

  • Financial Counseling: If you are not implementing an EAP, consider other specific financial counseling services or recommendations to provide employees.

  • No or Low-Interest Short-Term loans: Sometimes financial issues arise unexpectedly. Help your employees navigate these burdens by providing a safe alternative to payday loans, notorious for high-interest rates and penalties

  • Tuition Assistance: Student loan payment assistance is becoming more desired by employees, especially younger generations. Stay competitive by offering this benefit which can be tailored to your budget.

  • 529 plan: Do you have lots of employees with families? Consider sponsoring a 529 plan to help employees save for future higher education expenses.

  • Health Savings Account: When you offer an eligible high deductible health plan (HDHP), be sure employees know how to use this savings account as well to help cover out-of-pocket costs with pre-tax funds. Austin has a range of HDHP and HSA educational tools including our HSA scenario examples.

  • Flexible Spending Account: FSAs work with all plan types (though may be limited if as HSA is also elected) and provide employees with a way to use pre-tax funds. The additional benefit of an FSA is that funds are available to use immediately. Employees do not need to wait until they accrue funds in their account like in an HSA.

  • Identity Theft service: Becoming a victim of identity theft can be a huge expense and a very stressful situation. There are many employer-sponsored identity-theft insurance plans available to help protect your employees.

  • Smoking Cessation program: Helping employees quit smoking can help them save money, and help your business save on health care costs. Highlight financial benefits as well as physical benefits of quitting to further encourage employees.

  • Employee Discount/Purchase Program: Discount programs can include many helpful services such as mobile phone, reduced loan fees, computer hardware/software, childcare, local business, appliances, fitness equipment, furniture, and more. You can use a vendor for these types of services, negotiate locally, or check with your local business chamber.

  • Free/Discounted Gym membership: Specifically offering a discounted gym membership highlights another link between financial and physical wellness. A gym membership may be an expense that is just out of reach for your employees when they are concerned with other bills.

  • Benefit Cost Sharing: Among the most financial assistance you can provide employees is your cost-sharing strategy. Covering a portion of health care, dental, vision, life insurance, and other premiums can have a large price tag, but it has the most impact on employees after their salary. Austin Benefits can help you create custom Total Compensation Statements to showcase the real value of cost-sharing along with other benefits.

In any situation, focus on increasing awareness so you can boost utilization and ensure employees are taking advantage of these benefits. Emphasize lifestyle management to help employees strive for wellness in all aspects of their life.

Related: The Power of Voluntary Benefits

Benefits of Financial Wellness

Finances are on many people’s minds and your employees will appreciate any financial benefits offered. Expanding your benefits package can also raise employee morale and satisfaction. The connection between financial and physical wellness means you may also see a reduction in healthcare costs with a successful program.

Bridge the gap between physical and financial wellness by integrating discussions to help your employees become savvier healthcare consumers. You can get started by checking out our Healthcare Consumers Overview Guide and our Emergency vs. Urgent Care Guide.

better healthcare consumer

Having financial peace of mind or a feeling of being in control of one’s finances will significantly reduce an employee’s stress level. Lower stress levels can improve overall health along with improving focus, attitude, and performance at work. Financial wellness can support your overall wellness initiatives by promoting healthier behaviors and attitudes in all aspects of life.

2018-02-27T12:47:55-05:00 Employee Benefits, Health & Wellness|