Do You Know Your Responsibility in your Employee’s Personal Financial Wellness?

The Stats May Shock You

Much has been discussed about creating loyal and happy staff, and attracting and retaining great talent.  One often overlooked opportunity to build trust, increase worker productivity, reduce stress and contribute to an employee’s financial freedom is helping to educate on employee personal financial wellness.  So why would you go down that road?  Do employees really want you meddling in their personal affairs?  The statistics may shock you why you may want to help and they may be only too willing to accept your help. So what is your role in your employee personal financial wellness?

Since 1998, the Sanofi healthcare survey has monitored the pulse of Canadians with employer-sponsored health benefit plans. They continue to track respondents’ overall satisfaction with the healthcare system as a whole and their own benefit plan, their concerns about their health and the health of their families, and their understanding of certain chronic illnesses.

Over the years, the survey has looked at the issues of workplace stress, the growing need for homecare services and disease prevention. It offers the benefits industry an important benchmark to evaluate emerging healthcare issues that impact employee health and productivity.

In the 2018 Sanofi Healthcare Survey, of the 33% of employees that said they experience stress on an ongoing basis, 50% said that poor personal Financial Wellness was a major contributor to this stress.  As well, poor personal financial wellness was the single largest contributor to this stress.  There are 26% of employees admitting to taking time off from work in the last year due to stress.  Once again, poor employee financial wellness was the single largest reason for stress-related work absences.  Of the five top reasons for employees’ stress, an employee’s personal finances was the leading culprit.

“Poor employee personal financial wellness was the single largest reason for stress-related work absences”

Are personal financial wellness and mental illness related?  According to the same survey, 58% of respondents identified having a chronic condition, 67% for those between the ages of 55-65.  Of those employees with chronic conditions, 47% admitted to having missed work or found their job became more difficult to perform as a result of this chronic condition.  Of that 47%, 72% of those employees suffered from a mental illness.  Considering stress is a significant contributor to those suffering a mental illness.  Can this only be construed as a coincidence? 1.

“26% of employees admitted to taking time off from work in the last year due to stress”

From the survey, it appears the greatest opportunity for improvement for employee wellness programs (as financial wellness isn’t specifically broken down) are with small and medium sized companies.  This isn’t to say that employers with five hundred or more employees couldn’t improve on greater financial wellness awareness.

Have Wellness Programs in the Workplace Peaked?

The survey also revealed that for the first time since 2012, wellness programs among respondents had plateaued or declined. In 2018, those offering wellness programs declined to 41% versus around 50% over the previous six years. But those who do offer wellness programs, 51% are planning to invest even more in wellness programs.  It appears that the gap between those who offer wellness plans and those who don’t may be widening.

Employee Personal Financial Wellness Programs Don’t Need to be Costly

For small and medium companies, perceived cost can be a significant deterrent or barrier to setting up wellness programs, specifically financial wellness programs.  Financial education can be more valuable and enlightening to employees than one might believe.  Although all employees would love to have a defined benefit pension or Group RRSP or Defined Profit Sharing Plan the reality is that many companies just can’t afford to provide them.  Providing valuable financial education in the workplace can help to significantly reduce some employee’s stress.  Providing education and more importantly resources to refer your employees to can be equally beneficial.  Most of all, they don’t need to cost employers anything but perhaps time for employees to attend these education seminars.  Many seminar speakers will conduct them free to your staff provided they are listed as a supplier or resource for your employees.

Numbers are indicating that employee absenteeism from financially driven stress is on the rise.  Poor employee personal financial wellness is the single largest cause of employee’s stress.  This impacts a company’s productivity, morale and profitability.  The millions of hours of lost worker production due to absenteeism or the inability for one to do his/her job is an ever-increasing statistics.  If you could offer assistance as an employer, wouldn’t you?  Do you still feel your business can’t afford a financial wellness program?  The real question should be, can you afford not to have one?

Chris Coulter is the Founder and President of The Finish Line Group.  He works with business owners to leverage their businesses to increase their wealth, reduce corporate and personal taxes, create viable succession strategies, enable employee retention strategies and allow them to exit their businesses on their terms. 

Chris’ passion for what he does evolve from the mistakes he made in his first business; by not diversifying his risk and not utilizing a lot of the opportunities within his business to create significant wealth.  Chris found out the difficult way and now educates business owners on how to avoid many of his former oversights and ultimately control where their finish line ends.



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