Criteria of a true financial wellness program
From the standpoint of employers who are offering financial wellness programs as an additional employee benefit, the programs must meet the following criteria to qualify as a true financial wellness program:
1. Delivered by an unbiased financial education company that is focused on changing employees' financial habits and behaviours, and helping them make informed financial decisions and create strong financial plans. Pairing this with an advice component can make for a comprehensive program, but solely having financial representatives sell employees insurance, mutual funds, or manage their assets is not a financial wellness benefit.
2. Holistic and comprehensive, meaning that it covers all aspects of financial planning, from serious debt issues to advanced estate planning and wealth protection, so the program can help all employees in a workforce, not just those who fall into a certain demographic. Also, the program should integrate all employer benefits and providers so it is a seamless program from an employee perspective.
3. Personalized and employee focused so that the programs start with the employees' financial issues and provide guidance around their specific needs, rather than attempting to simply educate them on financial terms or specific financial services. Personalized financial wellness programs are tremendously successful at driving behavioural change because they provide direct guidance tailored to the person's individual needs, as opposed to a "one-size-fits-all approach."
4. This may be the most important thing (after an unbiased financial education company): These programs must be a process, not an event. Employers would never expect employees to work out once or eat their vegetables for a week and immediately improve their health. Same thing with finances. Financial wellness programs, by nature, provide multiple channels and ongoing access to financial coaching so that employees have the support and accountability they need to not only make one-time changes, but ultimately develop financial habits and behaviours that become part of their lifestyles.