One of the findings from the recent survey we conducted with Harris Polls – What Your Employees Think About Financial Wellness Programs–that made a number of us raise our eyebrows and say “No kidding!” was this:
Men were almost twice as likely than women to respond that they found their company’s financial wellness programs intimidating – 45% to 23%.
That’s right: when asked in private what they feel about employer-provided financial wellness programs, guys were a lot more likely to have a negative reaction to them than their female counterparts.
Now…do we know why this is the case, based on the data?
No, no we don’t.
We could speculate, of course.
But we won’t. That would be irresponsible.
However, what we can do with confidence, with this report in mind, is make some recommendations to wellness professionals trying to get the best possible results with their financial wellness programs and employees of every gender:
#1. Offer financial wellness assistance that employees can read over and ask questions about in private. If you only have group meetings or even webinars, you risk alienating a lot people (men in particular) who might have questions but don’t want to appear ignorant in front of their colleagues.
#2. Consider creating and sharing a list of financial wellness FAQs (i.e. questions a lot of ordinary folks might have, followed by answers explained with the simplest language possible) with your employees.
The key here is to not use jargon, not data dump a bunch of stuff just to get it off your plate, but instead to simulate the conversational way you might answer a person’s questions if he wandered, sheepishly perhaps, into your office – or the office of your consultants – for advice.
Also, circulate these FAQs at times of the year employees are most likely to be thinking about their financial habits: tax time, the beginning of the new year, the point at which salary raises are discussed.
#3. Work to create a culture where reaching out for financial assistance is seen as a sign of intelligence, not a sign of weakness. How? In your messaging about financial wellness, adopt a tone that makes it clear that all of us could use some help when it comes to handling our debt, making smart retirement decisions, etc.
You might make a point to ask that managers attend these meetings; if employees see that their bosses are taking the time to go, they might be more likely to jump onboard and feel less judged. Also, be strategic about the names you give the resources you send out or the events you create. Consider, for example, how employees of every gender might be less self-conscious about attending a “financial refresher course (with some interesting tips for 2015)” rather than “Money 101.”
#4. Don’t focus on past bad financial behaviors. A lot of people carry around serious emotional baggage related to their finances: guilt for wasting money in the past, anxiety about not knowing everything they probably should, fear about the future. And often it weighs on them to the point where they can’t move forward. They know something should change, but they feel paralyzed to do anything about it.
So: positivity and a focus on the future are key. Specifically, in order to build up confidence in their employees, wellness program administrators should consider focusing on what they’re already doing that’s “better than nothing” – even if it’s something very small, like putting 1% of their income in a 401(k) – and then provide one or two simple “to-do’s” to help them get moving further in the right direction.
Want to read the entire Harris/Jellyvision Employee Financial Wellness Survey Report? Click here.