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The three pillars of financial wellness: How to support your Gen Z employees

Published by: LifeWorks,

Generation Z financial pressure

For many employees, payday is accompanied by a sigh of relief. They’ve made it through a few weeks of expenses, covered the bills and avoided any emergencies. A few days later, it’s back to waiting for their next payday.

This paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle is experienced by nearly 50 percent of Americans, as a 2017 GOBankingRates survey found. That means around half of your staff may be experiencing financial stress, which hurts employee well-being and productivity.

According to the 2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), nearly one in three employees say they’re distracted at work because of personal finance issues.

The findings from the PwC study align with our own recent survey of Gen Z employees, which revealed that 40 percent of Millennials are distracted by, and have handled, financial matters at work. What’s more, nearly two in 10 say they miss work because financial stress hurts their health.

As we’ve discussed before, Generation Z employees are often overloaded with debt and have limited experience of money management. But employers are in a position to support their Gen Z employees, by focusing financial wellness programs on these three pillars:

Benefits

Young employees face unique financial concerns. For example, a March LendEDU study found nearly 40 percent of Gen Z employees say they either don’t believe they’ll be able to fully repay their student loan debt or they’re unsure if they will.

This is where your benefits package comes in. Student loan benefits are helpful, but rarely provided. According to a January 2017 WorldatWork report, just four percent of employers provide loan-repayment benefits.

This is just one of many benefits you can offer to ease employees’ financial burdens and improve employee well-being:

Financial literacy workshops

Workshops involve groups, thus providing a supportive community. They’re focused on practical, actionable solutions for various financial wellness topics, like goal setting and investment.

Financial management tools

There are several apps and online templates you can offer to give employees direction and guidance on managing their money.

Coaching services

For more hands-on assistance, coaches and advisors can take your employees through each step in building a healthy financial wellness strategy. These coaches hold them accountable.

Mobile education modules

Gen Z is the first digitally native employee population. Providing mobile-friendly, bite-sized educational content helps them learn financial advice quickly and efficiently.

Culture

Improving employee well-being is nearly impossible if your workplace culture perpetuates stigmas. Find out what’s preventing your staff from asking for financial help.

Our survey found that two in 10 Gen Z employees say they stopped participating or have never participated in their employer’s financial wellness program. Their top reasons include not trusting their information will be kept confidential and ‘feeling intimidated’.

The best way to combat stigmas is by building a workplace culture centered on employee well-being. Don’t just educate your staff on financial wellness — generate excitement about it.

Our wellness communication survey found that your culture benefits from the ‘excitement effect’ —  64 percent of employees say their employer is ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ at getting employees excited about participating in the wellness program. A staggering nine in 10 of these employees say they currently participate in their wellness program.

To spark excitement about financial wellness, promote your initiatives from the get-go. Host live demonstrations to teach new hires how to access financial wellness benefits through your internal portal.

Also, encourage peer support by starting employee resource groups, each one based on specific financial wellness needs (debt management, budgeting, managing child care costs, etc.).

Each month, gather these groups to participate in open discussions with financial professionals. These discussions are informal Q&A sessions where employees feel comfortable speaking up and getting the help they need in a supportive group environment.

Personalization

Your employees will use financial wellness benefits that speak to their personal needs and interests. This is why you need to engage on the mediums they use.

To do that, first survey your staff to identify their top financial concerns. Then, analyze it and segment them into groups. Traditional strategies, like hanging posters and sending email reminders about financial literacy events, won’t cut it for Gen Z employees, for example.

They’re tech savvy and often prefer the immediacy and intimacy associated with instant messaging. Directly connect with them through your chat platform to promote your program.

Also, make sure your messaging is geared toward getting them excited about specific events. For instance, to promote a financial management tool you offer, show them screenshots of the program to highlight that it’s user-friendly and simple to use on a daily basis.

Employee well-being issues like financial stress will disrupt the day-to-day operations for your staff if they aren’t addressed. Show your staff you care by building a financial wellness program that feels like it’s created just for them.

Make your employees feel loved