By Robert Pantoja*
At the recent Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Founders’ Assembly, the issue of talent was front and center. Business owners were discussing ways to not only find and recruit top talent—millennials in particular—but to make sure they thrive once they’re employed.
Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce. But attracting and retaining these workers can be a challenge. It’s tough to stand out in a tight labor market and— for a variety of reasons—millennials tend to switch jobs more often than previous generations.
Companies have plenty of strategies at their disposal, such as partnering with community organizations, or promoting your corporate culture. But one tactic that may not be as obvious is offering financial wellness programs to employees. That includes financial education programs, such as how to manage your finances, how to build credit and how to prepare to buy a home.
According to a survey from the Employee Financial Education Division:
- 61 percent of employees cited money at their number one stressor.
- 45 percent of employees feel their level of financial stress is high to overwhelming.
- 52 percent indicated distress over financial matters contributed to anger, fatigue, sleeplessness.
It’s also clear where they want to get this information—87 percent of employees said they want to receive financial education at their workplace. Let’s face it, millennials are less likely than previous generations to visit a bank branch, which means their exposure to financial education is limited. Providing in-person seminars in the office is a valuable tool employers can offer.
The survey also stated that employees who experience financial stress spend about an hour each workday dealing with their finances. That’s 13 percent of the workday spent on personal financial matters, so financial wellness is a productivity issue as well.
Financial wellness is also correlated with physical health. A financially stressed employee is more likely to experience physical and emotional stress, which means they’re likely to miss more work than financially secure workers. A happier, healthier employee is a more productive employee.
A financial wellness program doesn’t just offer employee retention benefits. Some companies include financial wellness as part of their employee benefits package, which can be a differentiator in terms of recruitment.
It can also be a risk management tool. Kelly Richmond Pope, a DePaul University professor, notes that “I’ve never talked to a happy employee that steals money.”* In the end, programs that help employees feel more financially secure can also help mitigate your fraud risk.
A few years ago, companies were surprised to see the productivity benefits associated with financial education. Now we’re seeing more and more companies that want to offer these types of programs. That’s because providing a financial wellness program is an added value for both business owners and employees.
*Robert Pantoja is BMO Harris Bank Vice President, Program Manager for Bank at Work. He was recognized as one of Negocios Now’s 2017 40 Latinos Under 40.