Financial Wellness

How to advise the C-suite on financial wellness benefits

The battle for talent is driving urgency to offer financial wellness benefits. Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared to advise the executive team.
Illustration of a person's head with thought bubbles representing financial stressors: groceries, car, savings, medical

The most successful employee financial wellness programs happen from the top down. A strong example is PayPal, where CEO Dan Schulman sees employees’ financial well-being as critical to fulfilling PayPal’s mission.

But what if you’re an HR benefits, recruiting, or payroll leader whose C-suite hasn’t yet prioritized financial wellness benefits? Launching any new benefit on your own is a herculean undertaking. So is trying to influence the C-suite from the bottom up, especially if your competitors have already launched new benefits to win the battle for talent.

In that case, you need to be ready when the C-suite decides to prioritize financial wellness. That’s likely to be sooner than later, too. Nine out of 10 hourly employees (87%) feel financially stressed, and they’re looking for free on-demand pay as a core benefit.

That urgency means your executive team will want to move fast. With the right roadmap, you can influence the C-suite to focus on the right financial wellness solutions, and save yourself time and effort in the process.

1. Gather and analyze the data you already have

You have more data on your employees’ financial wellness than you think. For instance, do you offer an employee relief fund? If so, do you know what percentage of requests are for medical bills versus home repairs?

Questions like that led PayPal to rethink what financial wellness benefits its employees needed.

“We started to notice that people were coming in for things like car repairs and small home repairs. Those are not insignificant, but it’s not a $10,000 medical bill,” Global Payroll Lead Traci Memmott said. “Those types of expenses where people just needed extra cash for an extra expense in a month pointed us in the direction of helping our people be able to get some money more frequently.”

2. Survey your most financially vulnerable employees

Financial wellness programs make the most impact when they focus on the employees who need the most help. One-size-fits-all benefits packages tend to create more disparity than equality, especially for enterprise employers with large salaried and hourly workforces. Half of hourly employees can’t afford their benefits to begin with.

infographic of top five reasons hourly workers don't use all their benefits

This recognition led PayPal to start with its global customer operations teams, which represented its largest population of entry-level and hourly employees. Surveying them gave PayPal’s leadership confidence that those who needed the most help would get it.

Get a head start on your employee financial wellness survey with these two resources:

3. Surface trends and dig deeper into them

Use your findings from the above steps to guide conversations with your employees. Why? Because things like going to food banks, or foregoing educational opportunities for their kids, are the kinds of stresses employees don’t share until a conversation happens.

You may discover during a roundtable discussion that your dynamic scheduling system drives burnout. Your employees don’t know their schedule far enough in advance, so they scramble to arrange childcare. And since their hours keep changing, so does their take-home pay.

The conversation shows you something a survey couldn’t. You discover that if you could give your employees near real-time visibility over their hours and earnings, you would dramatically reduce their financial stress — and lift your retention rates in the process.

4. Set a clear goal and tie it to a specific outcome

Your C-suite focuses on the top-line goals it believes will drive the most impact for the company. Likewise, your advice on financial wellness benefits needs a north star, a singular goal that drives an outsized impact.

For PayPal, that was net disposable income, or NDI, which measures how much money employees have left after taxes and living expenses. This clarity gave leadership confidence in the outcome. If it could raise NDI from as low as 4–6% at some U.S. locations to 20% worldwide, it would mean more employees could access the benefits PayPal provided.

They were right, too. Increase in NDI led to increased participation in health insurance, 401(k), and even employee stock purchasing.

5. Show how you’ll measure success

Let’s say one of your C-suite’s top-line goals is to improve retention. You’ll need to show:

  1. what financial wellness benefits get employees to stay the longest;
  2. how you will measure each benefit to tie its ROI back to retention.

If earned wage access (EWA) is a potential part of your financial benefits plan, you could start with insights such as how 73% of employees want EWA, and how 3 out of 5 would likely leave for a similar paying job to get it.

As for measurement, you compare 90- and 180-day retention rates between new-hires who do and don’t use EWA. You could also anticipate leading indicators, such as employees putting more money into emergency savings as a result of EWA.

6. Make evolving your benefits part of the plan

Employees’ financial needs are dynamic, not static, so emphasize success is not about set-it-and-forget changes. Rather, long-term success comes from keeping pace with employees’ evolving financial needs. That’s how you establish and maintain status as an employer of choice.

For example, use follow-up surveys to validate your new benefits and gain insights for future decisions. When Noodles & Company followed up with employees after launching EWA through Even, 70% said it made a positive impact on their financial health. What’s more, 70% of employees said it made them feel better about Noodles & Company as their employer.

Get help advising the C-suite on financial wellness benefits

The best way to start building your case is to draw from the best practices used by employers of choice. It shortens your learning curve, helping you advocate for your employees sooner and with greater confidence than starting from zero.

Graphic promoting the webinar "Keep 3 out of 5 hourly workers from leaving"

Learn the kinds of insights PayPal, Noodles & Company, and Walmart have used to build their financial wellness programs in the on-demand webinar “Keep 3 out of 5 hourly workers from leaving your organization.” You’ll walk away not just with how these companies have improved employees’ financial health, but how offering the right financial benefits also drives positive impact to employees’ overall well-being.

Watch it here.

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