Healthier workplaces combine financial wellness with traditional well-being offerings

Employers that provide financial wellness programs alongside traditional health and wellness offerings are likely to reap the benefits of a healthier workforce, according to new research by Prudential Financial Inc.

The research surveyed 2,000 American employees who work at organizations that offer wellness benefits, such as gym memberships, fitness and diet advice and smoking cessation programs. Building on findings from academics that show even small changes in socioeconomic position can affect health risk, it suggested that respondents who took advantage of both health and financial wellness programs were more likely to report lower levels of stress, as well as better physical and mental health.

Read: Financial wellness programs must go beyond education: survey

“Workplace health and financial wellness programs can make a positive difference in the lives of American workers,” said Judy Dougherty, chief financial wellness officer at Prudential, in a press release. “Financial and physical health are often intertwined, and employers who provide help on both fronts stand a greater chance of achieving better outcomes for their employees.”

The research also found 59 per cent of employees who participate in workplace health wellness programs and 59 per cent of those who take part in financial wellness programs said they consider their overall mental health to be good. But those numbers fall to 53 per cent for those who don’t use health wellness programs and 55 per cent for those who don’t use financial wellness programs.

Among survey respondents who use financial wellness programs, just 13 per cent said they have high overall levels of stress, compared to 17 per cent of those who don’t use the programs. And nearly a third of employees expressed a desire for financial education classes, online financial management tools, digital financial advice and planning, accrued wage advances, low interest loans and debt consolidation or payment programs.

Read: Four steps to building a successful financial wellness program

“These findings mirror our experience providing financial and health wellness programs for our almost 50,000 employees,” said Lucien Alziari, chief human resources officer at Prudential. “We have seen firsthand how financially well employees become more effective employees, less burdened at home and at work by the stress financial struggles can cause.

“As a company, we know that understanding the needs, challenges and desires of our employees makes us stronger, more attractive to new talent, and improves the productivity of our workforce.”