Want Engaged Employees? Invest in their Financial Wellness

Learning how to manage money was a required field of study in my childhood home. The first day of the month, my dad would sit at the dining room table to balance his checkbook and pay the household bills. My four siblings and I knew what would happen if we walked by when he was in that zone. We’d get a lecture on financial responsibility. I retained four valuable lessons that many adults, specifically those in the black and brown community, were not privy to.

First, pay yourself first. Before you spend anything, set aside savings. The amount may change but the act must be routine. Second, never live beyond your means. If you can’t afford to pay for it, you don’t need it. Third, your ability to repay a loan is a greater asset than what you make. And finally, more money does not solve money problems. If you can’t responsibly manage a $ 100 budget, you won’t be good with $ 100,000, either.

My father prepared his children to navigate a different work world than his generation experienced. Today, most workers no longer work at jobs that provide a pension. Instead, it is more up to individuals to save for retirement by contributing to 401ks or other retirement accounts. People also hop more often from job to job and so face financial choices at each juncture. What’s more, a quarter or more of today’s workforce is in the “gig” economy, which provides even fewer workplace-managed financial benefits.

All told, the burden of financial wellness has steadily shifted from employer to individual, but I see signs of a small pendulum shift back the other way. Given today’s talent shortage, the challenges of COVID-19, and a wealth of online financial wellness tools and products, companies are in a position to focus more on the financial wellness of employees, which is highly desired. More than half of employees say they’d be attracted to a company that cares about financial wellness versus their current employer, PwC research shows.

I see three areas employers are focusing on to ensure better financial wellness among workers. They are:

Equity.

This year, Equal Pay Day in the US fell on March 15. It highlights how far into a new year a woman must work, on average, to earn what a man did in the previous year, given similar jobs with similar skills and experience. Many companies are working to close this gap – and keep it closed. For example, my company’s 2021 review revealed less than a 1 percent disparity between what women and men earn globally at Ceridian, and less than 1 percent disparity between what white and non-white employees earn in the US In a commitment to pay equity among our global employees, our company will conduct another analysis in the second half of 2022.

It is no surprise that gender and racial inequities continue to plague our society. The systemic barriers in place faced by women and people of color will take decades to knock down. As noted by President Joe Biden in a proclamation regarding Equal Pay Day, over the course of a career, the pay gap can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost earnings, particularly for women of color, significantly impacting retirement savings and uniquely burdening. households led by single mothers.

Employers of all sizes need to work to close these gaps, and to keep them closed, so that all workers have the fairest chance possible to enhance their financial wellness.

Access.

This is what my father talked about when he said my ability to repay a loan was a great asset. But not all people have equal access to credit. Historically, minorities are disproportionately faced with exclusionary behaviors and systemic barriers that have contributed to economic disparities, including limited access to federal mortgage lending programs and geographic restrictions to physical banking locations. While 5.4 percent of U.S. households were unbanked in 2019, almost 14 percent of Black households and 12 percent of Hispanic households were unbanked, government data shows. Without ready access to traditional lines of credit, these groups are more likely to use high-interest payday loans.

On-demand pay, or earned wage access, is an emerging benefit increasingly embraced by employers enabling workers to access earned wages when they need it most. Four in five US workers (83 percent) between the ages of 18-44 believe they should have access to their earned wages at the end of each workday / shift, before the traditional payday, research from my workplace shows. Mizuho Securities USA speculated that on-demand pay could be both the biggest change to the payroll industry since the 1960s, and a disrupter to the $ 11 billion payday loan market.

Literacy.

Companies have a fiduciary responsibility to provide financial education to their employees. They have the people to manage the corporate bottom line, and the wherewithal to help employees manage their bottom lines, too. Money problems are only solved with education, dedication, and a plan put into motion. Companies that meet this need will find willing students among the workforce. A full 87 percent of employees want help with personal finance, PwC notes.

My father delivered lessons on financial wellness because he cared about his children. In any organization, people are the most important asset. We entrust our employees to service our customers, promote our brands, and grow our businesses. The healthier they are, the more present they’ll be both at and away from work.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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