Employers Spend $742 per Employee for Wellness Program Incentives

Are you looking for new incentives to help your employees participate in your wellness program? Check out this interesting article by Brookie Madison from Employee Benefit Advisor on how employers are offering financial incentives in order to increase participation in their wellness programs.

Wellness programs are popular with employers but employees continue to need motivation to participate. Seventy percent of employers are investing in wellness programs, while 73% of employees say they are interested in wellness programs, but 64% of employees undervalue the financial incentives to join the wellness programs, according to UnitedHealthcare’s Consumer Sentiment Survey entitled “Wellness Check Up.”

Only 7% of employees understand the four basic terms of health care —premium, deductible, copayment and coinsurance — which is why UHC didn’t find it surprising that workers underestimate their financial incentives in wellness programs, says Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer for UnitedHealthcare.

Despite this disconnect between what employers are offering to help ensure their employees’ health and what employees are willing to do to maintain a healthy well-being, the most appealing incentives to employees for wellness programs are health insurance premium reductions (77%), grocery vouchers (64%) and health savings accounts (62%).

Employees find the financial incentives of the wellness programs appealing, yet only 24% of employees are willing to give up one to three hours of their time per week to exercise, attend wellness coaching sessions or research healthier recipes to eat.

“Unwilling to engage is part of the problem why a third of the country is obese and another third is overweight. We have a real problem in terms of keeping people healthy and that’s what we want to help address,” says Madsen.

Madsen recommends that employers promote their wellness programs and incentives multiple times throughout the year. Gift cards, reduction of premiums and contributing to health savings accounts are leading ways to reward employees. “Incentives on an ongoing basis get people engaged and motivated to participate for a long period of time,” says Madsen.

Wellness programs also provide a way for employers to adjust their benefit packages to be customized and be more than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. “Look at your insurance claims, work with insurance providers and identify common health challenges. See where you have prevalent healthcare needs and who your high risk populations are to develop programs that target those results,” suggests Madsen.

Wellness programs need endless support from advisers, insurance providers, consultants, consumers, friends, family members and employers in order to encourage employees to live healthy lifestyles, according to UnitedHealthcare.

Madsen suggests that employers have onsite biometric screenings. “Helping people know their numbers will help them understand where they have an opportunity to improve their health, which would make them motivated to engage more,” says Madsen.
New trends of wellness programs incorporate the use of activity trackers. Twenty-five percent of employees use an activity tracker and 62% would like to use one as part of a wellness program.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Madison B. (2017 June 28). Employers spend $742 per employee for wellness program incentives [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/employers-spend-742-per-employee-for-wellness-program-incentives


Advisers Seek a Tech Solution to Financial Wellness

Have you been looking for a new solution to increase your client's investment into their financial well-being? Check out this great article by Cort Olsen from Employee Benefits Advisors on how advisers are using technology to help their clients invest in their financial wellness.

With many employers taking advantage of wearable wellness devices such as Fitbits and Apple Watches, advisers and consultants say they would like to see a similar platform that will efficiently monitor a person’s financial wellbeing.

“For physical wellness there are health assessments like biometric screenings to gather information and then there is the wearable data that tells people where they need to be to stay on track with their health goals,” says Craig Schmidt, senior wellness consultant for EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants. “The difference with the financial piece is that there isn’t a way to track users’ spending habits or monitoring their retirement funding to make their financial status more budget friendly.”

While Schmidt says he has not been able to find a platform that monitors financial status at such a personal level, John Tabb, chief product officer of Questis, has put together a platform that manages to gather data and make suggestions on what employees should be focusing their investments on such as paying off student loan debt or investing in their Roth IRA.

Tabb estimates that there are roughly 30 companies that call themselves financial wellness firms but adds that none of them are “holisitic.” “Not to say that they are not good, but there are only a handful of companies that can allow advisers at financial institutions to utilize their platform as a tool,” he says.

Saving for retirement vs. paying off student debt
Shane Bartling, retirement consultant for Willis Towers Watson, says they have developed a program with their clients that addresses gaps in the market and increases the value of the overall lineup of financial well-being services offered by employers generally around retirement readiness.

“As a result of requests from clients and the needs we have identified with our consulting work, we have built out a technology solution to compliment the line-up of other resources that clients have available,” Bartling says. “We wanted to find the indicators of poor financial wellbeing in the workforce, how to measure it and then how do we engage the parts of our workforce that are going to see the highest value from the resources we are providing.”

The WTW program offers clients an initial assessment from an adviser to determine where employees are struggling the most with their finances. “There is a way to look at behaviors employees are signaling when they are in a poor financial situation,” Bartling says. “They begin to do things like using loans, taking hardship withdrawals and then ultimately you see issues like wage garnishment tend to pop up on the radar and are opting out of the 401(k).”

SoFi has expanded its business focus from student loan refinancing firms into the workspace by helping employers offer a student loan repayment benefit.

“Looking at the employee benefits space today, student loans are generally a pretty big hole in most employers benefit offerings,” says Catesby Perrin, vice president of business development at SoFi. “The main stays of employee benefit offerings are healthcare and 401(k), which we all know are essential, but in many respects don’t address the most pressing financial concerns of the largest demographic in the workforce, which are millennials.”

Perrin adds that 401(k) and other forms retirement saving is imperative for everyone in the workforce, however retirement is not a top priority for millennials due to other financial stressors that are taking place in their day-to-day lives.

“As great as a 401(k) is and how important it is intrinsically, if you have $500 or $800 a month due in student loan payments, which is totally plausible for somebody coming out of undergrad today, the 401(k) is a total luxury,” Perrin says. “Most employers are not doing much about student loan problem, so we are offering two primary benefits today for employers… a student loan refinancing benefit and a benefit set for employers to help pay down the principle balance of their employee’s loan.”

Alternative tech gaining traction
One option is the increasing popularity of mobile push notifications. Ayana Collins, wellness consultant out of EPIC’s Atlanta office, says she is seeing a greater response from users who utilize these alerts on their smartphones to view wellness tips and strategies that they may not read if they are delivered in the form of an e-mail.

“Employees receive thousands upon thousands of e-mails and one more e-mail coming from HR or from a wellness company may not be opened,” Collins says. “If they receive a push notification from their mobile phone they are more likely to check out what financial wellness tips we are sending to them.”

Privacy invasion?
Meanwhile, new legislation determining how wellness plans are regulated has sparked a renewed interest in finding a streamlined financial wellbeing platform.

Shan Fowler, senior director of employer portfolio and product strategy at Benefitfocus, says legislation such as the Employer Participation in Repayment Act and the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, will help fuel the creation of a financial wellbeing platform.

“Financial regulation is very similar to healthcare regulation,” Fowler says, “due to so many branches that are contingent with legislative support. Seeing bipartisan support for this national epidemic [has me feeling] very optimistic.”

However, employees may not be as enthusiastic. Many workers are concerned about the level of data employers could have access to, seeing it as an invasion of privacy, Fowler adds.

“I think you need to put yourself into the shoes of the employee and ask if I want my company to have access to my personal information,” he says. “That speaks to that very fine line employers have to walk of having their employees’ best interests in mind, but not going too far into a ‘big brother’ mentality.”

Tabb says that while the Questis platform does offer individual advice on financial direction based off an initial assessment, the data collected is stored in an aggregate form that protects employees’ personal information from being viewed by their superiors or colleagues.

“If the employer wants some data, they are going to pay for it to help them make decisions, but it is all on an aggregate level,” Tabb says. “There is certainly a perception that needs to be addressed to ensure employees that their data is safe and that nothing is being shared with their employer that does not need to be shared.”

Both Bartling and Perrin also say their platforms offer data to employers only in an aggregate form to give them an idea of how many employees are utilizing the benefit and also the projected success rates, but when it comes to the personal finances of each individual employee, security is in place to ensure private financial information is protected.

EPIC’s Collins says no matter what branch of wellness an employer invests in, whether it be financial, physical or mental, there needs to be a reason behind the technology that they are using. If there is no payout for the employee, there will be no demand to carry the program.

“There has to be a ‘so what’ behind it,” Collins says. “If the employer is just doing a simple challenge with nothing behind it, people are not going to gravitate toward it, because it doesn’t create a moment where the users discover an improvement to themselves. That is the whole point behind wellness.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Olsen C. (2017 May 11). Advisers seek a tech solution to financial wellness [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/advisers-seek-a-tech-solution-to-financial-wellness


Why sitting is the new office health epidemic

Is your health starting to suffer from sitting down at work all day? Take a look at this interesting piece from Employee Benefits Advisor about the effects that sitting down all day can have on your health by Betsy Banker.

In the continuing conversation about employee health, there’s a workplace component that isn’t getting the attention it should— and it’s something that workers do the majority of every workday.

Sitting has become the most common posture in today’s workplace, and computer workers spend more than 12 hours doing it each day. Science tells us that the consequences are great, but our shared cultural bias toward sitting has stifled change. Many employees and company leaders struggle to balance well-being and doing their work. And it’s time for employers to do something about it.

Rather than accept the consequences that come as a result of the sedentary jobs employees (hopefully) love, it’s time to elevate the office experience to one that embraces movement as a natural part of the culture. Such a program will address multiple priorities at once: satisfaction, engagement, health and productivity. Organizations of every size and structure should embrace a “Movement Mindset” and say goodbye to stale, sedentary work environments.

There are many benefits to incorporating the Movement Mindset:

· Encourages face time. As millennials and Generation Z take over the office, attracting and retaining top talent is a key initiative for companies. Especially in light of the Society for Human Resource Management findings that 45% of employees are likely to look for jobs outside their current organization within the next year. Research has shown that Gen Z and millennials crave in-person collaboration, and users of movement-friendly workstations (particularly those ages 20 to 30) report being more likely to engage in face time with coworkers than those using traditional sit-only workstations.

Standing meetings tend to stay on task and move more quickly. Their informal nature means they can also be impromptu. Face time has the added benefit of building culture and social relationships, increasing brainstorming and collaboration, and creating a more inclusive work environment.

· Keeps you focused. For those who sit behind a desk day in and day out -- which, according to our research, about 68% of workers do -- it can be a feat to remain focused and productive. More than half of those employees admit to taking two to five breaks a day, and another 25% take more than six breaks per day to relieve the discomfort and restlessness caused by prolonged sitting. It may not seem like much, but considering that studies have shown it can take a worker up to 20 minutes to re-focus once interrupted, this could significantly impact the productivity of today’s office workers.

It’s time to connect the dots between extended sitting, the ability to remain focused and the corresponding effect these things have on the overall health of an organization. Standing up increases blood flow and heart rate, burns more calories and improves insulin effectiveness. Individuals who use sit-stand workstations report improved mood states and reduced stress. Offering options for employees to alternate between sitting and standing during the day could be the key to effectively addressing restlessness while improving focus and productivity.

· Addresses sitting disease. The average worker spends more than 12 hours in a given day sitting down. In the last few years, the health implications surrounding a sedentary lifestyle are starting to come to light (like the increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and early mortality). It’s a vicious cycle where work is negatively affecting health, and poor health is negatively impacting engagement and productivity. Not to mention, the benefits span long and short term, with impacts on employee absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as health and healthcare costs. Offering sit-stand options to incorporate movement back into a worker's daily regimen is a great way to offset those implications, while showing employees that their health, comfort and satisfaction are important to the company. Plus, a recent study found that if a person stood for just an extra three hours a day, they could burn up to 30,000 calories over the course of a year — that’s the same as running 10 marathons or burning off eight pounds of fat.

Our sit-biased lifestyles are beginning to be seen as an epidemic; it’s the new smoking, and office workers who spend their days behind a desk are at great risk. Providing a sit-stand workstation is more than just a wellness initiative. It offers significant opportunities for companies to retain and attract talent, improve a company's bottom line, and offer employees a workspace that gives them the ability to move in a way that can actually improve productivity.

Embracing the Movement Mindset can turn the tables on the trends, going beyond satisfaction to create a cycle where work can positively impact health and good health can improve engagement and productivity.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Banker B. (2017 March 27). Why sitting is the new office health epidemic [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/why-sitting-is-the-new-office-health-epidemic?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000


What Percentage of Your Life Will You Spend Exercising?

Original post benefitspro.com

How much of your life will you spend exercising?

Reebok and Censuswide, a global consulting firm, studied exercise habits of people in nine different countries and came to the conclusion that the average person spends 0.69 percent of their life working out.

Or, as the shoe company chose to frame it: Of the 25,915 days the average human lives, only 180 will be spent on fitness. “25,915” is the name of Reebok’s new brand campaign focused on encouraging exercise.

To be sure, “fitness” is not the same as physical activity. Manual laborers throughout the world burn calories effectively without ever getting a gym membership. Reebok acknowledges that fact, pointing out that the average person still walks or runs the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference nearly twice in their lifetime.

But in an increasingly mechanized world in which more and more workers spend their days in offices, it is more important than ever for people to make a conscious effort to get exercise.

"As a brand dedicated to promoting and supporting health and fitness around the world, we felt compelled to shine a light on the disparities between what we may aspire to achieve and what we're willing to do about it," said Yan Martin, vice president of brand management at Reebok.   "It gives us a renewed urgency to get out there and live fuller, healthier lives. If we all traded in 30 minutes of phone time for a jog, we could actually help change the dynamics of global wellness."

To highlight the point, Reebok calculated that 41 percent of the average person’s life is spent engaging with technology. That amounts to 10,625 days in a lifetime.

In addition, the average person will spend 29.75 percent of his life sitting down, 6.8 percent socializing with a loved one, and 0.45 percent having sex.


Wellness Programs Benefit Employers, Employees

Original post benefitspro.com

Offering employee wellness programs isn’t just an exercise in altruism for employers. It pays off where most companies would value it most: the bottom line.

According to Forbes, companies are jumping on the wellness program bandwagon right and left, to varying degrees. In fact, Society for Human Resource Management statistics indicate that in 2015, 80 percent of employers offered preventive wellness resources and educational information, with 70 percent providing full strategic wellness programs.

But while companies are happy that such programs pay off in healthier employees — 59 percent of employers offering such programs believe they’ve resulted in improved worker health — those programs also pay off in ways that have more to do with the balance sheet than the scales.

The cost of wellness programs is nothing to be sneezed at, but on the other hand, employees involved in them often shift their diets to healthier foods, quit smoking, have a better mental outlook on life, and watch the pounds come off through diet and exercise. That means they’re less likely to have to take so much advantage of company-provided health plans, if they’re reducing or eliminating some of the risk factors that could send them to the doctor more often.

Healthy employees might exercise more and weigh less, but they’re also more engaged, and thus more productive. Better health can also keep them on the job longer, with better results and better job satisfaction. They’re less stressed, miss fewer days at work and don’t look for a new job as often; all those things add up to an 8 percent improvement in productivity.

All of that can translate, for most programs, to dollars and cents: a return on investment of approximately 3:1. It can, however, go as high as 6:1, thanks to reduced health care costs that result when workers are eating better, exercising more, and forestalling some of the conditions that can result in mega health care bills — and equally mega premiums.


Americans Don't Do Much to Avoid Hearing Loss

Original post benefitspro.com

Have you ever even heard of healthy hearing habits?

If not, you’re probably not alone. Relatively few Americans appear to pay much attention to their ears, according to a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of EPIC Hearing Healthcare.

The survey found that only a quarter of U.S. adults have had their hearing checked in the past two years.

In contrast, nearly two-thirds of Americans make a trip to the dentist at least annually. Three-quarters wear some type of corrective lens — either glasses or contact lenses — to address poor eyesight.

The survey also revealed that very few understand the risks to hearing presented by a number of different conditions and behaviors, including diabetes (22 percent) and smoking (14 percent).

Granted, it’s hard to believe that evidence showing how smoking harms hearing would be the game-changer that gets people to quit their habit, considering that people are more than aware of the other substantial health risks linked to tobacco use.

But overall hearing health would likely improve if the topic was more often emphasized by physicians and other health experts. According to EPIC, only 8 percent of employer-based wellness programs include hearing health.

But according to EPIC, only one in five people who would benefit from hearing aids actually have them. Even worse, people who don’t discuss hearing issues with their doctors often do not adopt habits to prevent hearing loss.

Hearing loss is often a problem that snowballs, explains EPIC. Dr. William Luxford, medical director of House Clinic. He says that people who begin to lose their hearing engage in behavior that exacerbates the problem, such as turning up the volume on their TV.

“A lot of people aren’t aware how important preventive care is for their hearing health,” he says. “Regular, comprehensive hearing exams by an audiologist are the best way to establish a baseline for your hearing and ensure any hearing loss is caught early so further damage can be prevented or minimized and hearing can be improved as quickly as possible.”


How to Bridge the Wellness Disconnect

Original post benefitnews.com

HR executives and business leaders are not always aligned about employee well-being or wellness solution buy-in, new research shows, signaling a need for adviser help to bridge the disconnect.

Optum’s seventh annual workplace study surveyed wellness budgets, return on investment (ROI), incentive strategies and challenges in building a culture of health among companies of all sizes.

Seventeen percent of HR executives versus 30% of business leaders think employee well-being is” very good,” according Optum Health’s Seventh Annual Wellness in the Workplace Study, conducted by the Optum Resource Center for Health & Well-Being.

On the other hand, 41% of HR executives versus 32% of business leaders say wellness solutions are important to the benefits mix.

Seth Serxner, chief health officer for Optum says it is important for benefit advisers and consultants to make sure that both HR executives and business leaders are all on the same page when it comes to understanding their wellness programs.

“[Advisers] might think they have everyone on board when speaking to HR executives,” Serxner says. “However, when HR goes to pitch this program to a CFO or members of the C-Suite, they may need to adjust how they present the business case.”

While HR managers view some of the non-financial productivity and moral factors that are important in a wellness program, the non-HR managers are focused on the bottom line, ROI, cost containment and healthcare cost issues, he adds.

“[Non-HR managers] tend to think the population is healthier and more well than the HR folks,” Serxner says. “So they may not think there is as much of a problem as the people who are closer to the data and understand the health risk condition of the population.”

Optum’s survey did find that wellness budgets are not decreasing, but are actually increasing. Twenty-eight percent of employers increased their wellness program budgets, according to the survey, up from 22% last year.

Serxner says advisers should use the data gathered in this study to help ground their clients in respect to what is happening within the client’s respected industry and with their peers.

“Clients will ask, ‘where do I sit in terms of culture of health, how am I doing with how I am investing my money,’ and what we find is it is very helpful to share some of these benchmarks about what other clients are doing and what the trend over time has been,” Serxner says.

Optum’s seventh annual workplace study surveyed wellness budgets, return on investment (ROI), incentive strategies and challenges in building a culture of health among companies of all sizes.

Optum surveyed 554 benefit professionals at U.S. companies across a variety of industries, which offer at least two types of wellness programs to employees. The size of respondent companies ranged from 20% small companies with two to 99 employees, to 38% jumbo employers with 10,000 or more employees.


Why Do Some Workers Get Away with Bad Behavior?

Original post benefitspro.com

Researchers from Baylor University are seeking to explain why some workers get away with sleazy behavior on the job.

After three studies that included over 1,000 employees, they are convinced they have found an answer: You can get away with breaking the rules or acting less-than-honorably as long as you’re productive. A valuable worker can afford to cross the line occasionally, while those whose performance lags cannot.

It’s an intuitive answer, but one that is no doubt often overlooked by disgruntled employees who wonder why they are being disciplined by their superiors or ostracized by coworkers while others have not.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Matthew J. Quade, a Baylor professor of business, wrote that productive workers who ignore rules or act unethically present a dilemma to employers because of their “contrasting worth.”

“The employees’ unethical behaviors can be harmful, but their high job performance is also quite important to the organization’s success,” he explained in the study, which was published in Personnel Psychology. “In this vein, high job performance may offset unethical behavior enough to where the employee is less likely to be ostracized.”

But that calculus is often flawed, argued Quade. If a worker is regularly engaging in unethical behavior, the employer will likely pay a big price for it down the road. As any observer of the subprime mortgage crisis might say, the short term gains of crooked business are often more than offset by major losses later on.

Unsurprisingly, the study authors concluded that employers should establish that they have no tolerance for unethical behavior from employees, no matter how good they are at their jobs.

Furthermore, they argue, employers should make clear that workers can come to organization leaders with complaints about unethical behavior from colleagues. This point is aimed not only at stopping poor behavior, but to prevent divisions among coworkers.

Another recent study found that employees are more likely to be stressed and unhappy at work when they perceive a lack of “organizational justice,” meaning that rules are not applied consistently or fairly.


Wellness: Get a Lunchtime Workout, Even if You Can't Leave the Office

Original post washingtonpost.com

It can be one of the most exhilarating things you do during the workday, but nailing the lunchtime workout can be tricky. Should you eat before or after? How much should you pack? Shower? No shower? And most important, how much exercise can you pack in during a lunch hour?

The good news is that there are all sorts of tricks for getting the most out of your midday workout and several products that make it easier to navigate.

How to prepare

The key is to have a plan. The night before, pack a light bag of just the essentials: a change of underwear, travel-size deodorant and wet wipes — if you won’t have time for a shower.

Need to shower no matter what? Consider throwing in a bottle of dry shampoo to cut down the amount of time you spend away from your desk, said Tami DeVitis, an instructor at Vida Fitness in the District. She also recommends (if your hair is long enough) wearing a ponytail that requires no maintenance post-workout.

Another way to stay prepared is to keep a pair of sneakers and toiletries in your desk at work. That way, you can just grab what you need and go. Personal trainer Lee Jordan has noticed clients bringing no more than what can fit into a rolled-up T-shirt. In other words, pack light.

You also should consider arriving at the office a little early just in case it takes you longer than expected to get ready, said DeVitis, who teaches several lunchtime classes.

What to eat

Scarfing down a hoagie right before a run might not be the best idea, but you should eat something, said Nancy Clark, author of “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.”

“The goal is to enter into your workout with a normal blood sugar level,” Clark said. “If you’re exercising at a pace you can maintain for a half-hour, your body can digest the food and use it during the workout. You could eat five minutes beforehand; it all depends on your tolerance level.”

If you’re planning a high-intensity workout of burpees or jump squats, she recommends eating a hearty breakfast. For less strenuous exercise, Clark said, it’s perfectly fine to eat a banana or half of your lunch before getting started.

What you eat post-workout is also very important. To recover from a tough routine, Clark says, down a smoothie, peanut butter sandwich, chocolate milk or any other mini-meals with a balance of carbohydrates and protein.

“Protein builds and repairs muscles, but it does not refuel muscles. Carbs fuel, so you actually want three times more carbs than protein,” Clark said. “The mistake people make these days is just having a protein shake after the workout, but you’d be better off having a fruit smoothie to get carbs andprotein.”

Where to work out

If you’re lucky enough to work near a park or somewhere with good trails, going for a run outdoors is a great way to break up the workday. Too cold? Hit the treadmill at the gym and add in some intervals — one minute of sprints followed by a 30-second jog for several rounds could help you get the most out of your run.

Circuit training is another option for burning calories that could also build muscle if you throw some weights into the mix. Jordan recommends four to five sets of compound exercises, the kind that work two or more parts of the body. You could, for instance, grab a pair of dumbbells for a squat with a bicep curl or lunges with a lateral raise.

“You can either time your reps, say 45 seconds or a minute, or do a set number, say 10 or 15 squats with a curl,” said Jordan, an American Council on Exercise-certified health coach.

If designing your own routine is a lot to ask, there are apps for that. Nike Training Club, Sworkit, Spitfire Athlete and a host of other apps have cardio and strength-training routines that you can do in 30 minutes.

Even Fitbit, the wearable fitness monitor, is getting in on the act. This month, the company released Fitbit Blaze, a touch-screen tracker that comes with access to the workout app FitStar. The app offers diagrams that show you how to execute the moves in each routine.

Game for a class? Just about every gym has a variety of ­45-minute classes, allowing you enough time to get in, get to it and get going.

“Consider classes where you don’t get as sweaty, a barre class. You’re going to sweat, but you can clean yourself off and go,” DeVitis said.

Leaving the office in the middle of the day is a no-go for some folks. In that case, Jordan recommends heading to a stairwell, one without traffic, for a quick workout. All you need is a pair of sneakers, if that much, to do a few sets of calf raises on the stairs. Or you could do high-knee runs or squats or sprint up two flights for eight-to-10 minute intervals.


Technology: Talking to a Financial Coach Reboots Financial Wellness and Narrows Gender Gap

Original post businesswire.com

In a year marked by increased market volatility and slow economic growth, it’s not a surprise that overall financial wellness levels remained virtually unchanged. Employees appear stuck, hitting a brick wall with debt, lack of emergency funds and inadequate retirement savings. However, the latest study from Financial Finesse shows that the way forward to improved employee financial wellness – and to narrow the financial Gender Gap – could be human-to-human coaching, with technology playing a supporting role.

The Year in Review: 2015, an analysis of employee financial trends based on anonymous data collected by workplace financial wellness firm Financial Finesse, describes a year where most employees have been treading water in terms of their financial wellness. Overall financial wellness levels were unchanged at 4.8 out of 10 vs. 4.7 in 2014.

The study shows that while technology was helpful in increasing employee awareness of their financial vulnerabilities, online interactions alone did not improve employee financial wellness. By contrast, employees who had five interactions including conversations on the phone or in person with a financial planner professional showed substantial progress. Those repeat interactions with a financial coach appear to help an employee get “unstuck,” and advance in key areas. For these regular participants:

  • 80% have a handle on cash flow, compared to 66% of online-only users
  • 72% have an emergency fund, compared to 50% of online-only users
  • 98% contribute to their retirement plan, compared to 89% of online-only users
  • 48% are on track for retirement, compared to 21% of online-only users
  • 64% are confident in their investment strategy, compared to 42% of online-only users

Employers who offer financial wellness programs consider tailoring communications to address these vulnerabilities in particular:

  • 58% may not be saving enough for retirement, with only 16% of Millennials on track to achieve their retirement goals.
  • 51% don’t have an emergency fund. While this declines with age, a worrisome 25% of employees 65 and older still don’t have an emergency fund.
  • 34% may be living beyond their means. For employees with family incomes of $100,000 or lower, less than half pay off their credit cards every month.
  • 33% may have serious debt problems. Debt may be hurting African American and Latino employees the most, with 75% of African American and 66% of Latino employees saying getting out of debt is a top concern.
  • Concern over market volatility is high. Many employees grew nervous about their retirement plan savings and turned to their financial wellness program for guidance on how to handle these market fluctuations.