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Top Tips 2020 – Five Tips For Helping Your Employees Be More Financially Fit

Article provided by Community Partnership of the Ozarks

It’s the new year and many of us are focused on “being more healthy” or “reducing stress,” but few of us consider financial wellness as a major part of our overall healthy living plan.

Study after study shows that Americans  know very little about their finances or how to manage money. As a result, people are falling deeper into debt, not building savings,  and not protecting assets or planning sufficiently for retirement. Additionally, these studies indicate that stress regarding finances can increase anxiety and depression, as well as contribute to a lack of productivity and increased absenteeism. In fact, according to a 2017 survey conducted by nearly 65 percent of those polled indicated that money worries “keep them up at night” and add “undue stress in family relationships.” Ramsey Solutions (as in Dave Ramsey – a well-known debt-free advocate) states that 70 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, 52 percent have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 64 percent can’t cover a $1,000 emergency without borrowing money or selling something important.

Creating a workplace financial literacy program can demonstrate to employees that the company cares about their overall health – including financial wellness – and wants to offer opportunities to reduce stress and increase knowledge about money.

Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) has provided financial literacy programs to the Springfield community for more than 12 years. As a part of CPO’s Making Sense of Money Initiative,  a Workplace Partnership program has been developed, with the primary target audience of local employees, allowing for collaboration with businesses such as CoxHealth and SRC who are seeking a financial well-being program for employees.  If your company seeks ways to engage employees and strengthen your team, adding financial wellness can be a catalyst for better communication between employees and leaders, increased retention, and more job productivity.

Here are five tips for creating a workplace financial literacy program for your employees.

#1: Identify why your company needs a financial literacy program. Creating an understanding of the importance of financial literacy in your company is the first step. Is your human resources staff noticing an increase in employees borrowing against or cashing out their retirement accounts? Is there an increase in employee absenteeism or loss of productivity due to financial stress? Are more employees stating they have a second job or having trouble paying for childcare or medical care? Identifying specific problems and opening the lines of communication with employees can help employers understand why a financial wellness program is beneficial.

#2: Determine a budget. It may seem ironic that you would need to budget for a financial literacy program but making sure you can provide enough classes for all your employees and stay within budget will make the program sustainable and build opportunities for growth.

#3: Find community partners to assist. According to a study by the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education Group, less than 20 percent of employers believe they are adequately prepared to teach personal finance to their peers. Organizations, such as Community Partnership of the Ozarks, already have programs and curriculum that may be affordable, and they often already have collaborative relationships with local financial institutions, credit unions, the IRS, or debt management agencies. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel if it is not necessary.

#4: Create Peer-to-Peer opportunities. When employees realize they aren’t alone in their financial struggles, bonds between co-workers and leadership strengthen. Open classes held at the worksite create an environment for employees to support and learn from one another. Additionally, peer mentors will grow out of each class which can create safe zones for others who might otherwise be afraid to ask questions in larger classroom settings. In the Making Sense of Money program, there are several opportunities for participants to openly talk about their finances or beliefs regarding money and budgeting in a safe, friendly environment.

#5: Have fun and be creative! This final step is the most important. Give employees reasons to want to participate in classes. Serve a meal or light snacks, invite significant others to participate, offer childcare, and/or develop incentives. CPO offers a Savings Goal Match up to $100 for employees who save a minimum of $100. Offering incentives like a paid day off for meeting goals or a gift card to a local restaurant can encourage employees to finish the class and reach their goals while also demonstrating to them that the company is willing to invest in their overall financial health. The point is that financial education can be a scary topic for some and offering a low-key, judgment-free program with added activities or incentives can be just what you need to build a strong financial wellness program.

For more information about starting a Workplace Financial Literacy program, call Community Partnership of the Ozarks at 417-888-2020.

Supported by Community Partnership of the Ozarks
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