You’ve probably heard of the significant benefits associated with workplace wellness programs; perhaps you’ve even implemented a program in your organization. What many employers don’t realize is financial wellness is just as important as physical wellness. Incorporating a financial component to your wellness program can be a strategic move both your budget and employees will appreciate.

Connection between finances and health

Financial problems are consistently rated among the highest source of stress for people, causing anxiety, frustration and feelings of hopelessness. Additionally, the financial stress that many endure can lead to health problems. Stress is a known contributor to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stomach disorders, among other conditions. Part of this may be due to the fact that many people engage in unhealthy behaviors to cope with stress, such as drinking, smoking and overeating. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Psychology found that drinking, smoking and obesity were all associated with debt and financial problems.

Financial trouble can be overwhelming and consuming, leading to trouble sleeping, less focus, moodiness and generally feeling run-down. The combination of stress, anxiety and lack of sleep can cause more colds and minor illnesses, and can also exacerbate existing medical conditions. In addition, those with financial problems are more likely to neglect their own healthcare like not spending on preventive care or not adhering properly to medication and treatment regimens for chronic conditions. These factors can contribute greatly to an increasingly unhealthy lifestyle and higher medical bills.

Problems at work

Like any stressful personal problem, financial burdens can cause an employee to have a poor attitude at work, less focus, lower productivity and generally more carelessness. Financial stress can increase absenteeism rates due to increased health problems, along with higher turnover as some employees search for higher paying jobs.

How to get started

As an employer, you can help your employees cope with their financial problems and improve their financial situations. Consider offering financial benefits, including educational materials, resources for those needing advice or assistance and classes to teach basic to advanced financial wellness. Many employees have surprisingly little knowledge about managing finances, so simply offering education can be a huge benefit. If you have a wellness program, work to incorporate the financial component within the overall program.

Benefits of financial wellness

Because finances are on the forefront of so many people’s minds, employees will appreciate any financial benefits offered by their employer. Doing so will likely raise employee morale and satisfaction. In addition, a good financial wellness initiative can go far to reduce healthcare costs. For example, a smoker may be unwilling to quit until they learn the financial burden of smoking and realize the money they could save by quitting.

Financial education should also be integrated with discussions about healthcare to encourage more savvy healthcare consumers. Once employees learn ways to save money, they’ll likely be more prudent in their healthcare expenditures, participate in consumer-directed health plans, consider mail-order prescriptions and take advantage of preventive care. This education will save both employees and the company significant money.

Plus, having financial peace of mind, or even a feeling of controlling one’s finances, will significantly reduce an employee’s stress level, which will improve his or her overall health, along with improving focus, attitude and performance at work. Financial wellness can support your overall wellness initiatives by promoting healthier behaviors and attitudes in all aspects of life – yielding happier, healthier employees.

To learn more about how a financial wellness program can benefit your organization, contact a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) advisor.

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