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Unique Value in a Financial Wellness Program

Overview

What makes your business unique? That's an easy one. Why should employees work for you? That's another softball pitch. How are your benefits and retirement plan tailored towards your unique employee demographics and needs? That one is not as easy to answer. A financial wellness program can help you visualize and plan for your employee's unique financial needs.

Transcript

This is "In Your Business" with Michael Sayre a production of CUI Wealth Management. Today we're gonna make the argument for the importance of having a well designed, uniquely put together, financial wellness program for your employees. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you get something out of it.


I work with a lot of business owners and decision-makers and one thing I've noticed is that when it comes to strategy, one of two things generally happens from a high level. Either the company is offering the lowest cost option, or they are bringing something that has a unique proposition or unique benefits that makes their product different from the others.


I don't drink coffee, but I think it's a great example. You could go to the store, buy a bag of coffee that's super cheap and make it yourself. Or you can go to a coffee shop and sit in the lounge while someone puts together a responsive source pumpkin spice latte. Though these two examples have the same base product, coffee, the actual product is very different, one from another. 


When you ask people about their company or decision-maker or high-level executives on why a consumer should use their product as opposed to someone else's, a lot of times what they'll talk about is what makes them unique. It could be a process, quality, or what they're adding to society as a whole. It's really easy to answer those questions. It may also be easy for them to answer questions as to why someone should work for their company. There may be things in the conversation such as "we're a family, we treat our employees like family", or "we have flexibility", or maybe it's about groundbreaking technology that's going to change society as a whole. 


Now, the next question I have is a difficult question to answer. My question is, what are you doing from a retirement and benefits plan side that reflects the uniqueness of your employees? Or, in other words, is there a unique value to the benefits in the 401k or retirement plan you're offering. Now don't get me wrong I'm not about going outside of the mainstream retirement plan or benefits side of things. What I'm talking about is, what have you done to tailor those benefits to your employees that you're working with? 


From a retirement plan side of things, a great place to start is a financial wellness program. Now I know the 401k plan, for example, is a retirement vehicle. And most people are going to plan for retirement, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for people and their financial concerns, and their financial needs and their financial well being. 


Personally, I think companies owe it to their employees to have programs and tools available for them to make good solid financial decisions. But even if it's not the motivation for starting a wellness program, there are some other strategic reasons why you should consider starting a wellness program. 


Let me give you an example. I was reading an article today that was published in 2018 in the 401k specialists, magazine or website called "Panic Attack: Financial Stress Costs Employers 500 Billion Annually". That's billion, with a B. Do you think it's possible to portion that lost revenue is in your company? Absolutely. 


Sometimes people talk about leaving your personal life at the doorstep and walk into the office, but I don't think that's possible because those things that are on your mind and that are concerning you are going to be in the back of your mind somehow, somewhere. A solid financial wellness program can help at least provide the tools and the resources for people to take care of some of those financial needs that may be weighing on their minds. 


Next, I want to emphasize a point, but I'm going to do it with a personal story. About three months ago, I realized that I had not been taking good care of my physical well being for a long time. I work late hours, I get up early. Sometimes, I need to grab a meal quickly, and I'll go grab some fast food. I took a step back and realized, "Hey you know I need to take care of myself a lot better". And so what I started to do is I created a workout regimen. And once I got good at being consistent at working out, I started to add nutrition to the mix. I started to then work on sleeping habits. I also started to work on, just getting a little bit more balanced, spending more time with the kids, spending a little more time doing other things. And little by little I've noticed the difference in energy and I felt a lot better. And I've been able to do a lot more. 


This is relatable to how financial wellness works. There are fundamental needs we all have when it comes to finances. We need to have a solid budget. We need to understand cash flow, emergency funds. And then we take the next step to look at other things planning for you know those things aren't extremely far off in the future but are far enough that we need to start thinking ahead. For example, do we have proper protections in place in case something happens to us or our family? Do we have funds for education or higher education for our kids? Do we have things that you know cars that we need to buy our home that we need to buy soon? 


And then finally, once immediate needs are taken care of and the near future is planned for, we can start planning for the long term. We can start looking at, "How am I going to retire?" "What am I going to do in retirement" and that becomes clearer and clearer as we get closer. But generally, people do these in steps. You don't, all of the sudden, go from absolutely nothing to having a full savings account, and your retirement, bought and paid for. 


Now let's bring this back full circle from where we started. We talked about what makes you unique and what makes your company unique. What makes the employee experience unique and what makes your benefits and 401k offering unique? And how that ties into financial wellness. If you are trying to get something put in place that is tailored and unique for your company, you've got to start with the data from your company. You need to start to understand what are the things that are driving your employees. What are the concerns they have? You can also find a lot of times in the record-keeping software that you use. You can get reports to see what are the habits of saving for retirement for the employees you have all this information can be used to put together a financial wellness program that is tailored specifically to the needs, desires, and demographics of your company and the employees. 


I'm a 401k advisor, and I think one of the best places you can go to get stuff started is the professionals that you work with; the 401k advisor you have, the TPA you have, the record-keeping resources you have. That's a great place to start because they can help direct you in the right direction. 


Once you've sat down with your professional and collaborated. The next step that I look at is realizing the current situation. So, what metrics are you looking for? What kind of feedback that you've been getting from employees? What are the trends in the workforce? Next, you can review the available resources. So, for example, some providers have education resources that are already built-in. They may have presentations already made. They may have people who can come out on-site and help alongside the adviser to provide education. 


The next thing is to plan. Put it on paper, set goals, make it specific, and make it official. And then finally execute on the plan, even if it's not perfect, it can make a difference in the employee's lives and you can always go back and polish it up a bit if you need it. And just like most things in life, it probably will not be perfect when you start it. And that's okay, because, taking a step is better than taking a perfect step.


My final thought for this episode, wrapped around a buzzword that we hear all the time culture. What kind of culture are you cultivating for your clients, and your employees? Whether you're sick and tired of that buzz word, or it's something that you live and breathe by, I think there's an argument for having financial wellness become a piece of your company culture. 


Maybe that's just the financial nerd in me speaking out loud. But how cool would that be for employees to realize that the company they're working for cares enough about them, that they are going to provide resources and education and programs to help them succeed financially? Because many of the decisions that we make, and the goals that we have, and the desires that we have, have some financial portion of it tied to them. Not all of them, but a lot of our goals have some financial aspect tied to them. 


Well, it's time for me to jump off my soapbox and this rant. But my final words to you is if you are a decision-maker in your retirement plan for benefits, consider putting a wellness program in place, or looking at the financial wellness program you already have and polish it up, let's commit to raising the bar together and we'll see you next time.


Bibliography

Anderson, B. (2019, March 8). Panic Attack: Worker Financial Stress Costs Employers $500 Billion Annually. Retrieved from 401k Specialist: https://401kspecialistmag.com/panic-attack-worker-financial-stress-costs-employers-500-billion-annually/

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