Buisnessman looks out of window while contemplating financial wellness

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Bosses know financial anxiety wears their workers thin, but most haven’t stepped up to help.

Money is one of the biggest causes of stress in the country — so why aren’t employers doing much about it?

In a survey of 302 corporate executives, only 38 percent said they have implemented a financial wellness program. Of them, 77 percent say it should be a core employee benefit within their company.

Yet still, most (62 percent) haven’t, says investment service company Charles Schwab.

“The path to financial wellness often starts at work,” says Nathan Voris, managing director of business strategy for Schwab Retirement Plan Services. “Employers can play a huge part in helping their employees take ownership of their finances by encouraging them to take an active role, ask questions and ultimately take accountability for their financial future.”

What are financial wellness programs?

More companies throughout the U.S. are implementing some kind of wellness program for their employees. Wellness programs are designed to promote health and fitness to employees to create a better work environment and reduce stress.

Some are set up to educate employees to quit smoking, manage diabetes, or lose weight. Some companies offer discounted gym memberships and preventative health screenings through work.

Money is still the biggest stressor in the U.S., says the American Psychology Association, and has been for the past 10 years since the APA began their study on stress in America.

Financial stress does impact our overall well-being. Yet financial wellness programs are the third most popular type of program, says a survey from Fidelity investment company — behind physical well-being programs (95 percent), and emotional health programs (87 percent).

“As these programs evolve, employers are embracing a broader definition of well-being to increase participation and engagement among their workforce,” says Fidelity senior VP Adam Stavisky. “Today’s programs take more of a ‘health meets wealth’ approach and reflect a blend of financial, physical, and social/emotional programs to provide maximum support for members.”

One of the major concerns employers may be faced with while trying to implement a financial wellness program with their company is defining what the program will be.

Most employers agree that programs should offer guidance on personal financial management, saving fundamentals, debt management, and investment strategies like asset allocation — but understand not all will have the same financial needs.

“The definition of financial wellness is very personal for each employee, and employers need to be mindful of that when implementing a new program,” says Nate Bidner, managing director of Schwab Workplace Financial Solutions. “While general education and tools are useful for a broad cross-section of employees, the real task is to get them engaged and motivated to utilize the resources available.”

Employees can use the help

Stress about money carries over from our personal life to our work life. Over half (56 percent) of employees say they’re stressed about their financial situation, and of those, 53 percent say it affects their ability to focus and be productive at work.

Companies are adopting new ways to educate their employees with these wellness programs. The most popular financial programs are seminars called “lunch and learns.”

They plan to educate employees during seminars on saving for emergencies, managing debt and budgeting, and 25 percent of companies plan to offer student loan counseling or repayment assistance this year.

“Employees are looking to their employers as a resource in helping them manage a broad range of financial matters,” says Sylvie Feist, director of financial guidance services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Employers can best meet this call for help by offering programs that address a wide range of financial needs, such as education on building better money habits and access to financial advisers who can offer personalized guidance and more holistic services.”

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Meet the Author

Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of

Career and Business

benefits, office life

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