Recently, a commuter rail incident underscored the seriousness of not having enough money for critical events: a woman whose leg was severely injured when she became trapped between a train carriage and the platform pleaded with her rescuers to not call an ambulance because she couldn’t afford to pay for it.

While this incident occurred in the U.S. and Canadians don’t have the same health care cost concerns as our southern neighbours, we have our own financial hardships and economic challenges, such as our high cost of living, to contend with. What seems like a tidal wave of never-ending expenses and financial worries negatively impacts our physical and mental health, our livelihood, and our workplace productivity.

It’s a numbers game with room for improvement

How stressed are Canadian workers when it comes to finances? In a word, very. Financial health and wellness might not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing workplace health benefits, but it’s a key trend monitored by leading people managers.

Here’s a snapshot of key points that illustrate the tapped-out finances of today’s workforce:

  • Slim emergency savings: A recent survey found 23% of respondents identified themselves as struggling financially, with 78% of this group living paycheque-to-paycheque.
  • Emotional impact: The 2017/2018 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey reports almost one-third of workers (30%) believe their financial concerns are negatively affecting their lives.
  • Frequent illness: In a recent PwC study, one-quarter of employees say health problems are due to financial worries.
  • Disengagement: The 2016 Sun Life Canadian Health Index said 29% of Canadians are distracted at work due to their financial situations.
  • Retirement on hold: PwC research shows 54% of employees who are stressed about their finances plan to postpone retirement.

Can you create a plan that mirrors and supports your talent pool?

The workforce consists of a wide array of demographic groups, each with its own specific financial needs. When it comes to being financially savvy, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and pre-retirees each have their own particular commitments, opportunities, and challenges.

Regardless of an organization’s demographics, it is essential to consider the following points to ensure a solid and effective outcome for any personal finance program that is part of your employee health and wellness offerings:

  1. Privacy: Personal financial information must be handled with the highest levels of accuracy and security.
  2. Prioritization: Engage your employees to find out current and future financial vulnerabilities with an eye to their different demographics.
  3. Inclusiveness: Work with your employees to identify and prioritize the causes of financial stress. This first step is essential for people leaders to create personalized wellness programs that reflect individuals’ varying needs.
  4. Transparency: Like every aspect of your employee wellness offerings, the financial component should be open, relevant, best practice, and provide an engagement channel for questions and concerns.
  5. Tools and technology: The popularity of the internet and smartphones has unleashed a plethora of personal finance resources. Work with your employees to provide the right mix of traditional and digital information sources.

Although the majority of employees don’t trust financial materials and advice from their employers, adhering to the preceding five points will help ensure your work teams achieve success for their members and your organization at large.

Get more insight into harnessing the power of holistic employee health and wellness programs in the workplace by downloading Part 1 of our ebook series, The Rise Guide to Creating Happy, Healthy and Productive Employees.

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