Financial wellness programs are one of the fastest-growing areas of employer benefits – yet are also one of the broadest categories. What counts as a financial wellness program, and why are employers doubling down on their investments?
In essence, financial wellness is about building employees’ confidence so that they can meet their budgeting, saving, and spending goals. That often starts with removing stress, because for many employees, short-term challenges block their way to setting long-term goals.
And what’s got employees so stressed? The real answer? Many things, including housing, credit card debt, being able to afford a vacation, and being able to afford (or pay back) a college degree.
A Unique Approach to Financial Wellness
This holistic view of employees’ struggles is fueling a different approach to financial wellness.
And at SHRM 2017, I had the privilege of sharing three examples of financial wellness programs that all focus on one of the most common areas of concern: higher education.
Here’s a brief glance at those three strategies:
Seminars that dispel dangerous college affordability myths
The formula used to determine financial aid eligibility is complex and overwhelming for many working parents, and there are few objective and up to date resources on the public web. Without knowing it, parents can make missteps that amount to tens of thousands of dollars in potential aid… inflating their stress about paying for college and saddling their children with unnecessary debt. A single onsite seminar helps clear up misconceptions for dozens or even hundreds of your workers – saving hundreds of hours of collective research during a single lunch break.
Guidance on searching for colleges based on cost
Many working parents help their children evaluate schools, but learn the application process as they go. With the help of an expert coach, those dependents can apply to schools that have a greater chance of giving out merit scholarships on the basis of that student’s hard work. On top of that, the College Coach experts even know how to negotiate for increased savings – a step that few parents even consider, and that averages additional savings of several thousand dollars per year of college.
Contributions to college saving and debt plans
Employer educational contributions these days aren’t limited to employees’ next educational pursuit; the rise of employee student loan repayment programs have brought similar plans to help employees saving for their children. Two examples are employer-sponsored 529s and dependent scholarship benefits – both of which can be offered alongside tuition assistance and loan repayment for a spectrum of education-related benefits that appeal to workers of all ages and personal life stages.
College tuition hikes are still growing well above the rate of inflation. At the same time, increasing shares of jobs are going to college-educated workers. With these factors at work, it’s no small wonder that more and more companies are helping their workforces get a leg up in higher education.