You may be surprised to learn that focusing on financial wellness can improve your physical and mental health. Aside from having the funds to address emergencies and illnesses, financial literacy can help you prepare for health expenses and ease a huge burden that could cause a lot of stress.
The connection between financial health and overall wellness also applies to the workplace. Healthy employees are more productive, after all. You can play a role in helping your colleagues better understand their finances, which can benefit the organization in several different ways. Here’s what you need to know.
The Physical Health Benefits of Financial Planning
Better financial planning leads to many benefits, including improved physical health. Oftentimes, people delay going to the doctor because they’re afraid of the expense; others avoid taking preventive measures like annual physicals, smoking cessation classes, weight-loss programs or monitoring a chronic health problem like diabetes.
A financially healthy employee is likely healthier overall since they stay on top of preventive care and budget for medical emergencies. This balance enables them to catch problems early on and therefore spend less on treatment. Employees who aren’t financially healthy might delay these care visits due to the cost—but this can lead to bigger expenses down the line.
The Mental Health Benefits
Employees who aren’t worrying all the time are mentally healthier overall. If you’re not panicked about how you’ll pay the bills, you have mental capacity to relax and fully focus on your work duties. That’s a huge amount of stress removed from your daily life.
The World Health Organization has called stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.” It’s an epidemic that costs American businesses up to $300 billion a year. And personal finances just happen to be the leading cause of that stress.
Many middle-income Americans report that they worry about money more than their own health, careers or love lives. They say their financial worries cause problems in their marriages and social lives, along with headaches, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Eliminating or reducing that stress can have a huge impact.
The Benefits to Your Business
Nearly 45 percent of employees who are distracted by finances tend to spend at least three working hours a week worrying about (or dealing with) financial issues. For a 100-person company, this could result in more than 500 hours of lost work each month—which equates to having three fewer full-time employees on staff.
Less healthy employees tend to take more time off, whether for sick days or just personal reasons. By helping your fellow workers be more financially sound, they’ll be more productive in general. And if they know you care, it can improve morale and create a team that’s more loyal.
How to Help Coworkers Improve Their Financial Health
In order to help your colleagues better understand their finances, first familiarize yourself with the types of problems they are facing. Most employees struggle with things credit card debt, saving for children’s education, putting money away for retirement and simply meeting basic household needs. You can distribute an anonymous survey to find out which issues your team members are facing in particular.
Consider offering in-house financial education programs, just as your company might offer health and wellness programs. The best financial programs have simple, step-by-step plans because finances can get confusing fast. Since finance is dependent on personal behavior, the program should be inspiring, with quick wins to keep people feeling motivated. It should also be easily accessible—removing any barriers to success—and include a budget tool that’s customizable. Consider a program that’s online and can be accessed from any mobile device or desktop.
You can also offer an employee assistance program (EAP.) These are third-party programs (often offered through your health insurance plan) that allow employees to get confidential help with problems ranging from health issues to legal advice and more. Conveniently, EAPs typically include opportunities for confidential financial counseling.
As you can see, financial health is essential to your coworkers’ overall wellness as well as your organization’s health and output. It may take a small investment of time and money to get a good financial wellness program off the ground, but the ROI that you can get back in the form of healthier, more productive employees makes it all worthwhile.