Financial Wellness

Financial health and employee wellness meet at HBLC 2022

HBLC 2022 highlights financial health's role in employee wellness with a session track called “Boosting Employee Financial Health.”
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Employee wellness conversations tend to focus on mental and physical health — and maybe financial health gets mentioned as something to look into. But the 2022 Health & Benefits Leadership Conference (HBLC) aims to reverse that trend. HBLC highlights the role financial health plays in employee wellness by offering attendees a five-session track called “Boosting Employee Financial Health.”

Dedicating a track to financial health makes sense. Consider HR, benefits, and talent leaders’ biggest concerns right now. HBLC has session tracks covering them all:

  • recruiting and retention;
  • mental and physical health;
  • benefits strategy.

Financial health intersects all these and more. Take recruiting, retention, and benefits strategy. Three-quarters (73%) of hourly employees want earned wage access (EWA), and 3 out of 5 (57%) would likely leave for a similar-paying job that offered it. Without financial health benefits like EWA to lean on, employees’ mental and physical health suffer. The Kaiser Family Foundation found half of American adults have delayed or skipped health or dental care in the past year because of cost.

All this reinforces why employers need to approach mental, physical, and financial health holistically, not separately. HBLC 2022’s “Boosting Employee Financial Health” track will help employers see how these three dimensions connect to support employee wellness.

3 sessions from HBLC’s “Boosting Employee Financial Health” track we’re looking forward to

HBLC's financial health track covers a broad range over the conference’s three days. It includes presentations of successful financial wellness programs. It also covers specific use cases, such as why low-wage and hourly workers need personalized financial benefits. Three sessions in particular stand out for their immediacy, practicality, and disruptive thinking.

1. “Financial Health & Security: 5 Actions Employers Can Take Now”

Hourly employees urgently need relief from financial stress. According to the Brookings Institute, low-wage workers have suffered the most from COVID-19. They’ll likely recover the slowest, too. As a result, the American Psychological Association (APA) found unhealthy coping mechanisms are on the rise — more drinking, poorer eating, less sleep. These habits will continue hurting employees’ mental and physical health after the economy recovers.

Luckily, Timothy Flacke knows how to help employers course-correct their financial wellness programs. Flacke is Executive Director and Co-founder of Commonwealth, a national nonprofit that helps financially vulnerable people build economic security and opportunity.

In his session, Flacke will present five steps employers can take to increase employees’ financial wellness and lower their stress and anxiety. Flacke has deep experience to draw from, such as Commonwealth’s work as part of BlackRock’s Emergency Savings Initiative.

Get the most value out of Flacke’s session by checking out “4 steps for employers to build employee financial security” beforehand. This article — written by Flacke’s colleague Brian Gilmore, Director at Commonwealth — lays out the thought process employers need to see financial wellness through a holistic lens.

2. “Choosing the Right Financial Wellness Solutions for Your Workforce”

Your employees, like your customers, want personalized experiences. That’s shown by the growing agreement that one-size-fits-all employee wellness programs don’t work. The same applies to financial wellness. But with new financial benefits and tools rapidly hitting the market, how do you pick the right ones?

Matt Bahl, Vice President of Workplace Financial Health at Financial Health Network, knows employers’ biggest pain points when it comes to financial wellness. Should you build a program in-house? (No, you probably shouldn’t.) How do you figure out if your employees need earned wage access (EWA), emergency savings, or a combination of financial benefits? Which vendors best align with your culture and values?

Bahl presents a framework for how to assess your employees’ unique financial needs. He’ll cover how to identify solutions, followed by how to evaluate vendors and partners.

The Financial Health Network offers more guidance in “The Employer’s Toolkit for Measuring Financial Health.” This resource outlines a four-step approach for surveying your employees, analyzing the results, finding the right financial wellness solutions, and measuring the ROI.

3. “An Underutilized Financial Wellness Tool: Equity”

A strong financial health program supports efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). That’s because financial stress disproportionately impacts some employees more than others. The APA reports that low-income and minority employees face greater levels of financial stress than their colleagues. Industries such as payday loans capitalize on that stress by disproportionately marketing toward black and Latinx communities.

Realities like these make Alok Deshpande’s session all the more needed. Deshpande, CEO of SmartPath, makes the case that low-wage workers deserve greater emphasis in employers’ financial wellness programs. That includes giving them access to equity. He points out how 84% of stocks are owned by the wealthiest 10% of households, making the largest wealth-building tool of the past 30 years available to only about 1 in 10 people.

Deshpande joins Rob Wisniewski, Senior Director of Global Benefits at GoDaddy. They’ll look at the results of GoDaddy’s equity program for high-performing employees in the customer care department. GoDaddy isn’t an isolated case in how employers can empower low-wage employees with equity options, either.

PayPal also shows how employers can help hourly and entry-level employees access equity. Since instituting its Employee Financial Health program, PayPal has increased employees’ average net disposable income (NDI) from 4–6% at some locations to at least 18% across the company. The knock-on effects include increased benefits participation, including to PayPal’s employee stock purchasing program. Read more about PayPal’s story here.

Find out what financial health means to your employees

HBLC’s financial health track brings together eight speakers to share their thought leadership on financial health and employee wellness. But to gain the most well-rounded perspective, you need to know how employees feel about their financial health, too.

In “The State of Employee Financial Health Benefits,” 1,000 hourly workers at large U.S. companies share how they feel about their financial health and benefits. You’ll learn why 87% of hourly employees today feel financially stressed. You’ll also learn what benefits would have the most impact on relieving that stress, so you can improve your recruiting and retention.

Read the report here.

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