Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list reads like a treasure trove of goodies. Google has been #1 on the list for several years and offers its employees: 3 organic meals per day, unlimited snacks, artisan coffees, on-site vehicle oil changes, a spa truck, nap pods, on-site laundry facilities and more. Yet another of the 100 Best, Acuity Insurance, organizes Selfie Days and Beach Bashes for its favorite employees. Finally, Wegman's Food Market offers yoga sessions and cooking classes.
Wellness perks for employees are increasingly popular, because they build teamwork, are not used by all employees all the time (so cost less than giving raises) and can help differentiate one company from another. Many companies for instance include gym memberships, personal fitness classes and yoga in such packages. However, less known and even absent from the usual perks publicized in the Fortune ranking is financial fitness. Like other wellness programs, offers of financial fitness are comprised of regular meetings with personal trainers to improve the state of employees' finances. Such programs can be offered by banks and can help educate employees, make them more financially well off and allow for better customer communication on financial matters for banks.
Consider that several well known companies have embarked on this adventure. Staples, Pepsico and media and marketing company Meredith Corporation are aficionados. They believe that employees under financial stress will call in sick more often, be less focused and will delay retirement and there may be something more to this.
In fact, according to a Financial Fitness Group survey of thousands of employees, financial counseling is badly needed. About 54% feel overwhelmed by their current financial condition, 48% find themselves living paycheck to paycheck and 26% don't think they could find at least $1,000 to pay for an emergency. Further, about 80% of employees say they suffer from moderate or high level of financial stress.
The Financial Finesse Think Tank studied workers' vulnerabilities, surveying close to 70,000 people during the period from 2011 to 2015. It found retirement was the elephant in the room. For example, only 16% of millennials are on track to attain their retirement goals. The lack of emergency funds is another big issue even among 65 and older employee age groups - 25% of which admit that they don't even have an emergency fund. Still others surveyed admit that they live beyond their means and that they neglect to pay off their credit cards every month.
To address these issues, bankers could invite professionals such as financial planners or other specialists to educate employees. Presenters should teach employees about financial calculators to run different retirement projections and discuss opportunities and risks. You can't go overboard here as there are many regulations around such things, but taking steps can really help employees find a better comfort zone and plan.
The bottom line is that such innovative financial fitness programs are of mutual benefit to employees and banks so they may be worth exploring. Doing so can help reduce employee stress, cut employee absenteeism, boost teamwork and enhance employee interactions with customers.