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Best Practices for a Workplace Financial Education Program

spend-save-blog-300What stresses you out the most? If you’re like the majority of Americans, it’s money. From healthcare costs to saving for retirement to sending your kids to college and paying off debt, money worries are a near constant for most people. And we all know the toll that stress and anxiety can take on our bodies, our minds and our quality of life. When we’re stressed or worried, we’re often distracted, less productive and less motivated, both in our personal lives and our work lives. Our health and wellbeing, personal relationships and on-the-job performance can all suffer.

A 2012 VOYA Financial study on retirement readiness found that 83 percent of workers surveyed indicated that they spend at least some time every week at work thinking about personal finances, and 34 percent indicated they spend five or more hours each week at work preoccupied with money worries. And according to an article on benefitspro.com, in a recent study conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, one in five survey participants reported having skipped work to deal with financial problems.

So what’s an organization to do in light of this reality? How can employers help ease the financial burden many of their employees bear (and in turn help them become more productive, motivated and engaged at work)? The answer may be a financial education program.

A 2014 study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) found that organizations that offer financial education are more likely to regard their employees as less stressed, more financially savvy and better prepared for retirement compared with organizations that don’t offer financial education. The study also examined success factors for financial education in the workplace.

If your organization doesn’t offer much in the way of financial education for employees, or if education efforts haven’t been successful, IFEBP offers the following best practices and recommendations for optimizing a workplace financial education program:

  1. Make it a commitment and be patient. Organizations that report the most success in their financial education programs are those that sustain the offerings over many years and provide ongoing support and resources.
  2. Be willing to invest time and resources. Organizations with successful financial education are more likely to devote budgets to their programs and are less likely to regard time and resources as major obstacles.
  3. Diversify topics and formats. The most successful programs provide education on a variety of topics, including investments, budgeting, saving, spending, healthy living, wills and estate planning, preretirement financial planning, retirement plan benefits, retiree healthcare and more.
  4. Know your population and customize your education. It’s important to do your research and learn what employees want and need in the way of financial education. The one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work.

Although putting in place a deliberate, focused, comprehensive workplace financial education program won’t eliminate money woes, it can help ease the burden of financial worries, reduce some of the stress and increase confidence about what lies ahead.

CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center offers several resources related to financial health. For readings, models/programs, how-tos and more, check out the Retirement Planning and the Non-Insurance Benefits toolkits.

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