Financial stress is one of the most common forms of stress on today’s workforce, and high stress levels are directly responsible for health issues such as depression, sleeplessness and high blood pressure. Low-wage workers aren’t the only ones suffering from money-related problems, either. Any employee at your business — from the receptionist to the CEO — could be worried about money. These kinds of distractions will reduce productivity and increase health costs. The good news is that offering financial-planning resources will help employees gain significant relief from the personal financial woes that sometimes affect their workdays.
Know Your Health Plan Options
Most employers already provide one form of financial planning that frequently goes unused: health savings accounts (HSA). HSAs allow your employees to set aside nontaxed income to dedicate to health care expenses such as co-pays and prescription costs. For a young, healthy employee, this might not have a significant affect on finances. However, for an employee with a family to support or a medical condition to deal with, an HSA could mean hundreds of dollars in savings every month. Above all, encourage your employees to take advantage of existing health plan options, even if an HSA is not one of them.
Long-Term vs. Short-Term Thinking
Some employees suffer from financial stress because of long-term concerns — setting money aside for retirement and college funds can be troubling when they’re also juggling more immediate concerns. Again, as an employer, you already have some resources to offer. If you have a 401(k) plan, you can ask the investment firm that manages it to offer additional information about financial planning. Most investment firms will gladly talk one-on-one with an individual about Roth IRAs and college savings plans. If you have enough employees with questions, the company might be willing to host an in-house lunch to cover the basics of long-term planning.
For employees with short-term financial stress, start by distributing some articles to your whole workforce. Not everyone will need the help, but for those who do, you’re giving them some basic information to help reduce financial pressures. Consider subscribing to a few personal finance magazines. These are intended for a broad audience and might act as a resource for both beginners and experts. Leave the magazines in the lunch room and encourage employees to make copies of anything they find helpful. Finally, find a local personal finance consultant willing to come in for free consultations. A personal finance consultant looking to take on new clients will gladly spend one or two days in your office for the opportunity to meet a wealth of potential new clients.
Don’t ignore the personal financial stressors that plague your employees. They will appreciate any guidance you can provide to help them make the most of their salary or wages. Offering financial-planning resources is already part of your role, and being more proactive about it will mean a happier, healthier workforce. When your employees suffer from stress, you lose money. Sick days, chronic illness and high staff turnover will cost you thousands of dollars as a business. Providing just a few extra resources may significantly change the overall level of stress that employees feel every day.
Dylan Murray has an MBA from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston University. He is a licensed insurance agent in California, but he works as a professional researcher and writer reporting on business trends in estate law, insurance and private security. Dylan has worked as a script analyst with the Sundance Institute and the Scriptwriters Network in Los Angeles. He lives in San Diego, California, and Marseille, France.