Citing a variety of surveys, Terry-Lynn Levy (pictured left), manager of human resources, benefits, wellness and HR information systems at Fluor Canada, said more than a third of Canadians cite money as their biggest financial concern and people experiencing financial stress are twice as likely to report poor overall health.

These individuals are also more prone to strain in their personal relationships and are at risk to more serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and mental-health conditions like depression and anxiety, she added during Benefits Canada‘s 2023 Benefits & Pension Summit in June.

“When you see Canadians’ concerns so clearly displayed in statistics like these, it’s really a compelling reason for employers to prioritize supporting employees in their financial health and wellness. As employers, we’re uniquely positioned to support our employees, offering them tools and resources to take charge and manage their own financial wellness and mental health.”

Read: How Fluor Canada’s financial literacy programs are meeting the needs of its diverse workforce

In 2018, Fluor Canada reinvigorated its wellness strategy. It initiated its first workplace mental-health risk assessment, which helped create and influence a people-first approach. According to Levy, this aligned with the company’s strategy of enhancing culture through a continued focus on the four pillars of employee wellness: mental, physical, financial and social.

It also formed an employee-led wellness committee with the intent of providing employees with the tools to thrive under these four pillars, she said, adding providing plan members with resources for financial well-being makes logical sense. “A workplace that’s financially well supports lower health-care-related costs, absenteeism and presenteeism concerns and improves overall productivity.”

Flour Canada’s financial wellness pillar supports employees in assessing and managing their own financial commitments, said Levy, which helps them meet their financial goals and choices while equipping them with the ability to absorb financial shocks.

That said, the organization offers a variety of savings vehicles, said Kourtnee Plume (pictured right), the organization’s regional human resources director, who also spoke during the session. For example, it introduced a tax-free savings account in January 2023. “Fluor understands employees have more financial commitments in addition to their retirement needs — and the tax-free savings [account] will help support employees in both their short-term financial needs as well as their long-term retirement savings.”

Read: Expert panel: Why employers should offer group TFSAs in 2022

Financial wellness isn’t achieved overnight and improvements to benefits can be really difficult to quantify, she noted, but by knowing what does and and doesn’t work, Fluor Canada has been able to make program adjustments. For example, 99.9 per cent of employees have opted into the registered retirement savings plan as a result of the company’s communications efforts. “This tells me that our employees are actively involved in their savings and making personal choices that meet their needs.”

Investing in financial wellness is an investment that pays off in many ways, said Plume, noting it’s about more than offering a particular benefit; it’s about building a measurable strategy and creating a positive culture within the organization.

Read more coverage of the 2023 Benefits & Pension Summit