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The importance of financial wellness around the holidays

Many people are experiencing financial strain due to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. The holiday season is usually a time when expectations and emotions around giving and travel contribute to financial stress. During this time of massive global disruptions, uncertainty and anxiety about money may impact employee morale and productivity.

This year’s holiday season will be particularly complicated. Due to the delta variant and breakthrough COVID-19 infections, the usual ways of bypassing the financial focus of the holidays—things like emphasizing personal connections, intimate gatherings and communal experiences—will require extra planning to maintain health and safety.

How can you support employee financial wellness in your organization? And what are some strategies you can suggest to help them enjoy a happier, less stressful holiday season this year?

What is financial wellness?

Financial wellness is a result of a series of ongoing decisions and behaviors that increase financial health while reducing financial stress.1

Larger employers are increasingly incorporating employee financial wellness into their wellness program. Over half of the companies surveyed in 2019 by the Employee Benefit Research Institute reported providing financial wellness initiatives to employees. Another 20% were setting them up, and 29% were interested in offering such programs.2

Originally, employee financial wellness programs focused on helping employees save for retirement, primarily through company-sponsored 401(k) plans. There has been more emphasis on financial education in recent years, including complex concepts such as risk/reward trade-offs, post-retirement income, investment fee impact and estate planning. Employees want information relevant to their current financial situation and guidance on emergency savings and college debt, not just retirement plans.

An important aspect of financial wellness includes finding a healthy balance between saving and spending, especially during the holidays.3

As a part of your company’s support of employee financial wellness, consider communication that acknowledges the reality of the financial strain associated with holiday season expectations and suggest strategies to manage spending.

Spend thoughtfully

Encourage employees to make a holiday spending plan and stick to it:

  • Determine how much you can afford and set a budget.
  • Set weekly, biweekly or even monthly savings goals as the holiday season approaches.
  • Factor in often overlooked costs of gift-giving like postage, cards and wrapping materials.
  • Prioritize your gift list and acknowledge that, this year, not everyone on the list may receive a traditional gift.
  • Shop early to reduce stress, save on rush shipping costs and help you stick to your budget.4

Give gifts strategically

Normalize the desire not only to spend less but to also support our communities and the practical needs of friends and family during this challenging time. Offer gift-giving strategies and options:

  • Buy local to support your community.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy and give gently used books, clothes, etc.
  • Go in with family or colleagues on joint gifts to help each other by pooling resources.
  • Make donations to local or important causes in honor of some of those on your gift list.
  • Give practical things like gift cards to your local grocery store, coffee shop or subscriptions to a food delivery or entertainment streaming service.5

The real “reason for the season”

Regardless of which holidays are celebrated, the theme of the holiday season is connection. Remind employees that this year, like every year, expressing their love and care is what really matters:

  • Handmade gifts are priceless.
  • Send a handwritten note or make time for a video call.6
  • Give memories by creating video or photo collages, handmade or using digital apps.
  • Give experiences by making “coupons” redeemable for date nights, get-togethers and in-person time we all miss, when it’s safe to gather again.7

After the holidays

Employees’ financial stress is a major issue for U.S. employers. According to a recent PwC study, 63% of American workers said their financial stress had increased since the start of the pandemic. And more than half of respondents to PwC’s survey just before the pandemic said money was already a significant strain.8

Ron Gaver, co-founder and CEO at Tapcheck, says, “As the U.S. recovers, businesses need a way to attract motivated employees to rebuild a talented workforce, and employees need solutions that support their well-being.”9

As part of an ongoing commitment to employee financial wellness, communicate throughout the year. Encourage participation in financial education opportunities and provide access to links, tools, apps and other resources to help employees meet their financial goals. Topics might include: 10

  • Budgeting
  • Emergency savings
  • Tax preparation and resources
  • Reminders to access free annual credit reports and audit subscriptions
  • Reminders to review insurance and update personal property inventories

Make employees aware of any automation services your company offers to assist in savings and debt pay-down initiatives. Some employee assistance programs offer legal and financial consultations—make sure they know about these offerings.

Humana’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Work-Life Services offer confidential, accessible resources to support employees’ financial well-being, including financial coaching.

Amid the expectations of the holiday season and a labor shortage that has various industries struggling to meet the high demand from customers, employers have an opportunity to stand out by offering employee financial wellness resources that not only support workers’ goals for financial security but also create a healthy and happy workforce that drives a successful business.11

To find out more about Go365 or EAP, contact your licensed Humana sales agent or request more information about these wellness programs by filling out this formOpens in new window.

Go365 is not an insurance product and is not available with all Humana health plans. This is a general description of services, which are subject to change. Product features may vary by client. Please refer to Customer Support for more information.

These non-insurance services are provided by Humana EAP and Work-Life Services. This is a general description of services which are subject to change. Please refer to your Human Resources contact for more information.

Personal information about participants remains confidential according to all applicable state and federal laws, unless disclosure is allowed by such laws.

Free legal and financial consultations are limited to thirty minutes per issue. A 25% discount on further legal services provided by attorneys and mediators is available. Certain legal and financial topics and issues are excluded from this service. Legal services are provided through CLC Incorporated. Financial services are provided through MSA. Neither Humana EAP and Work-Life Services nor CLC Incorporated is a law firm. Humana EAP and Work-Life Services, its parent and affiliates are not liable for the negligent provision of services by CLC Incorporated or its contracted professionals.

Sources:

1“Employee Financial Wellness 12-Month Promotion Calendar,” Enrich, last accessed October 3, 2021, https://www.enrich.org/blog/employee-financial-wellness-promotion-calendarOpens in new window.

2John F. Wasik, “Workers’ Financial Stress Is Rising. Can Corporate Programs Help?” The New York Times, last accessed October 3, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/business/retirement/money-stress-retirement-wellness.htmlOpens in new window.

3Kristi Yeh, “7 Ways to Stay Financially Healthy During the Holidays,” Parent Self Care, last accessed October 3, 2021, https://parentselfcare.com/blog/7-ways-to-stay-financially-healthy-during-the-holidaysOpens in new window.

4Bobby Hoyt, “Navigating the holidays with COVID-19 affected finances,” American Psychological Association, last accessed October 3, 2021, https://www.apa.org/members/content/navigating-holidays-covid-19Opens in new window.

5“Navigating the holidays with COVID-19 affected finances.”

6“Navigating the holidays with COVID-19 affected finances.”

7“7 Ways to Stay Financial Healthy During the Holidays.”

8“Workers’ Financial Stress Is Rising. Can Corporate Programs Help?”

9Ron Gaver, “Why Employers Should Prioritize Employee Financial Wellness,” Forbes, last accessed October 3, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2021/08/17/why-employers-should-prioritize-employee-financial-wellness/?sh=70b189d574a4Opens in new window.

10“Employee Financial Wellness 12-Month Promotion Calendar.”

11“Why Employers Should Prioritize Employee Financial Wellness.”