Workplace wellness: getting physical and fiscal

Getting more employers to opt for financial wellness programs might mean positioning them right next to physical wellness programs, guests said at the RPA Convergence Aggregator Roundtable and Think Tank in December.

Most big employers provide wellness programs to their workers, but it can be difficult to quantify the return on investment for physical wellness, attendees said. But adding financial wellness as part of that overall wellness package could help.

“Wellness programs are really being scrutinized in the benefits they provide or don’t provide,” said Pam Popp, chief inclusion officer at Lockton Companies. “There’s interest in marrying financial wellness into the broader wellness picture.”

Showing the benefits in saving and debt reduction that can result from financial wellness could help benefits professionals highlight the overall value of workplace programs. But not every company is sold on the idea of financial wellness, and even if they make such programs available, a minority of employees use it.

“Not every employer feels like it’s necessary,” said Rick Shoff, managing director of Captrust’s advisor group. “We’re not going to get 100% adoption of our advice and wellness offering. But we have 40% – and for that 40%, it really matters.”

For employees, “it’s 100% adoption, when they need it,” he said.

Companies that are incorporating it as part of their human-resources strategy, he said. “The fastest-growing part of our business is providing wellness and advice.”

Some business owners are reluctant to add financial wellness options, but explaining such programs in the context of mental health can help, said Glenn Spencer, CEO of Prime Capital Investment Advisors. Telling clients that as much as 80% of Americans experience financial stress, and then asking them what they think that statistic looks like among their own workforce can make the choice clearer, he said.

“The question becomes, if your company could do something to help [workers] reduce their financial stress, that is cost-effective to the company, would you do that?” he said. “Then it becomes, ‘Can you prove there will be an ROI on it?’”

Getting employees engaged with a program is another matter. An adviser can show their value by making it easy to find the program, whether it is provided by through the adviser, the record keeper or another party.

“Our experience is that if you meet with people, and they tell you what they want to do, and you give them instructions … 15% to 20% of people [will follow through],” Spencer said. “You have to make it super simple for them. If the tech is just offered to them, they won’t go.”

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