Financial Wellness Day

We recently organized a month-long series of events related to ‘Pensions’. Our Pension partner organized 5+ live sessions on various aspects; shared recordings, innumerable emails and resources in an attempt to increase employee enrollment into the pension scheme. For someone who isn’t a citizen of the country and doesn’t know where they’ll live five years from now, investing in a Pension scheme felt pointless. However, the more I went through the sessions, the more I realized how naïve my understanding was.

More importantly, I realized two other things– (1) financial planning needs time and (2) it gets easier with some help. Both being aspects that organizations ignore.

Employees can now take a day off for mental or physical wellbeing. Why is then the concept of a ‘financial wellness’ day off so alien? Every single organization is aware that financial wellbeing is a key part of total wellbeing; which is precisely why they attempt to modify compensation structures to being tax friendly, conduct market benchmarking and occasionally send emails on ‘how to do more with less money’. Yet, when it comes to success measures, almost no organization is measuring the success of their attempts in improving financial wellbeing. One could always turn around and write financial wellbeing off the company responsibility list, but we all know that’s not where the future is headed.

So here is recommendation #1: give your employees one or a couple of ‘Financial Health Day/s’ off.

Now that employees have the time, it is important to nudge them to use it in the best possible way. All organizations have existing relationships with financial institutions. Bringing them in to organize targeted sessions on investment instruments, government benefits, and financial health tips costs close to nothing. If you are feeling generous, supplement these with special offers for employees. Some organizations even offer fully funded financial advisors who employees can contact any time of the year. You will be surprised to discover what conversations with financial institutions can do for your employees. Even better if you ARE a financial institution.

If nothing, do it in the name of diversity. Supporting financial stability allows a more diverse set of employees to perform their best, especially if you have an international employee base. Figuring out the financial system in a new country is a daunting task. Ask me, I know. I am aware that the US of A has a National Financial Awareness Day on August 14 and it is likely that other countries have some form of it, but you don’t really need to wait until August rolls in to plan your financial health strategy. It could serve as a good drop dead date instead.  

In the end, we know it’s the little things that count. Offering support as illustrated above costs close to nothing but goes a long way in cementing the relationship between the employee and employer; something we can all do with more of, especially since every organization is likely storing a lot of pent up attrition for when the economy stabilizes. Make strides while you can.

P.S: TED released a series of bite-sized talks on money & mind. Watch them here.

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