Money – the more you make, the more it takes, or so it seems. This statement applies to employers as well as employees. While most businesses struggle with the challenge of doing more with less, employees struggle with the same challenge and are drowning in debt more than ever. While some debt may be necessary for both employers and employees, too much debt is usually the result of poor money management. Financial education, offered to employees by their employer, can be one of the best investments employers can make.
Stress hits productivity
According to research, more than one-third of employees are stressed about financial issues, with as many as 50% of them slowing productivity as a result. Other studies show that 90% of employees are dissatisfied with their financial wellness, 75% are insecure about retirement, and 50% hold a part-time job. Employers are surprised to learn that about a third of these employees waste 20 hours a month dealing with money matters on-the-job, are less productive, are absent more often from work, and also suffer from health and family problems.
Teaching employees about money
Since the Enron bankruptcy, many policy makers and other leaders at both the national and local levels have called for a greater focus on financial education. It has been shown that financial education programs can benefit all employees, regardless of their financial status. The National Institute for Personal Finance Employee Education (NIPFEE) has calculated that the first-year return on investment in workplace financial education, even for employees who make only slight improvements in their financial wellness, is more than $400 per employee (e.g., fewer absences, less time dealing with financial matters, and increases in productivity). Here’s an eye-opener – the NIPFEE estimates that the potential return on investment for employers who provide workplace financial education is at least 300 percent.
Some organizations have used financial education to help recruit and train their employees. This type of education also fulfills the requirement from the Department of Labor for employers offering defined-contribution pension plans, such as the 401(k).
Everyone reaps benefits
One popular financial education program, offered by companies like General Motors, US Steel, Exxon/Mobil, Daimler-Chrysler, Xerox and Ernst & Young, teaches employees how to give themselves a 35% raise by eliminating their personal debt. Although this sort of raise doesn’t require a company to touch a dime of its payroll, it conveys a message of goodwill to employees and helps them to become more engaged with their work. Employees learn how to reach their financial goals using the money they make now. They have less stress and feel less pressure to make more money.
Besides being a sound investment in employees, a quality financial education program would benefit your business for years to come. Workers will be more tolerant of budget cuts that prevent expected increases in pay, there will be fewer employees working second jobs or looking for higher paying jobs, and employees who are more cost-conscious at home should be more cost-conscious at work.
Companies lose through doing nothing
Unfortunately, most employers ignore workers who have personal money management problems because they do not realize the high cost of doing so. The reality is that workers’ personal financial management problems cost employers a lot of money.
The bottom line for most companies is that you can pay now or pay later. If you chose to offer your employees a good financial education program, the investment you make in your employees will not only enable them to better manage their lives, it will enable your workers to better manage the future of your business. Their future is your future.