Successful financial wellness programs require behavioral changes, not just literacy
- Wellness programs that merely teach employees financial literacy aren't as successful as those that encourage change in their behavior, according to Aon Hewitt’s 2017 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing. Aon Hewitt polled 250 employers overseeing 9 million workers.
- In the study, 59% of respondents said they would be very likely to focus on employees' financial well-being beyond retirement issues; 84% of respondents said they were very or moderately likely to add services, tools or communications to expand beyond financial literacy; and 58% said they already were helping employees with financial well-being.
- Despite employers' responses in the study, only 6% of workers “strongly agree” that their company is helping them manage their money more effectively.
A recent Willis Towers Watson study showed that, after years of trending in a positive direction, employees' financial well-being has plummeted. With workers facing more stress over money problems, as well as health and productivity losses, employers may want to address the issue with not only financial education, but also with interactive programs that can change how workers handle money, as the Aon Hewitt study shows. "Show, don't tell" is a fitting mantra for all types of training, whether in the classroom or online.
Some of the same interactive sessions that physical fitness-focused wellness programs use to engage workers, such as gaming and motivational exercises, could also apply to financial wellness programs.
Like so many study results show, employers think they're offering workers effective programs, while workers disagree. The disparate viewpoints between employers and workers need to be addressed. Employers should listen to workers' feedback before establishing, say, a wellness program or any other type of employee benefit.