Implementing a financial wellness program: Measure and assess
GO with Eckler: Engaging insights about financial wellness in the workplace
As many of us have set our goals for this year, it seems fitting to conclude our 5-step series on how to implement a successful workplace financial wellness program with a discussion on measuring program performance and assessing success.
A measure of success: objectives and metrics
Financial wellness, like physical wellness, isn’t achieved overnight. It is a process that takes time and dedicated focus. For employees and employers, improvements in financial wellness and its benefits can be hard to explicitly quantify and measure, but it is worth the effort. By knowing what’s working – and what isn’t, you can adjust your program to help support further improvements. Not all workforces nor employees are the same so finding an approach that works for your organization may take a bit of time.
5 steps to implement a successful financial wellness program
- Get buy-in from senior executives
- Find a third-party provider
- Build the program
- Develop a comprehensive communication plan
- Measure and assess
As a first step, employers will want to define goals – what you want to achieve. A close look at employee behaviours related to your retirement and benefit plans might provide some inspiration. Perhaps your employees are not taking full advantage of retirement contributions, or there are significant calls to your EAP provider for financial counselling. Are stress related benefits (massage, drug use, sick days) on the increase? Of course, you will also want to understand what your employees what to achieve. It is always a good idea to seek input from employees to understand their financial wellness goals so that you can design a program that meets organizational and employee objectives.
With goals established then you can move to setting clear, quantifiable objectives for change. While goals will be unique to each organization, following the SMART principal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) will provide a solid foundation for measuring and assessing progress. A financial wellness program expert can work with you to establish benchmarks based on similar organizations and programs and provide guidance throughout the process.
As an example, at a minimum, most organizations will likely want their employees to participate in the program and appreciate the value of the offering. This can be measured in a number of ways. How many employees have taken advantage of the program? How are they using the program? Is it the same people participating? If yes, which employees are not taking advantage of the program and why?
Specific goals that measure participation might be defined as thirty percent of employees attending at least two workshops in the first year, employees rating the program 4 out 5 on employee feedback surveys and ninety percent or higher recommending it to a colleague. For organizations wanting to go a bit deeper, defining objectives and achieving key metrics on behaviours in retirement and savings plans, benefit elections, absenteeism, use of EAP services, as well as frequency and duration of disability claims, will help define success.
North American workers are reporting the highest levels of financial stress since the 2008 recession. A workplace financial wellness program that meets the needs of your employees can help.1
Turning data into actionable insights
Well-defined objectives and metrics will help you turn data into actionable insights. If results fall short of your objectives, use this opportunity to understand why. If employee participation and satisfaction with the program are lower than expected, engage with employees to better understand their needs and preferences. A brief survey on program topics and delivery methods can help inform your program content and the learning methods.
A key component to any financial wellness program is awareness. How information about the program is distributed, where and how sign-ups occur, time of the year and even time of the day can have significant influence on take up rates. Offering opportunities for learning at various times and in different formats will allow you to see what resonates best with your employees, especially in the changing work environment of the last few years. Leveraging these insights to improve communication channels and provide employees with opportunities that match how, when and where they want to learn, will go a long way to helping you meet your goals.
No matter how you define success, SMART objectives and actional insights will help you balance organizational objectives with employee needs – and get a better return on dollars spent. A financial wellness expert can work with your internal teams and external providers to turn your insights into success.
In the case study below, we show you how one organization used actionable insights to improve employee participation – and achieved organizational benefits – in their workplace program.
A Crown Corporation headquartered in Ottawa.
Crown Corporation headquartered in Ottawa
- With an initial agreement to deliver in-person retirement seminars, the program had to adapt to the necessity of virtual learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The challenge became how to keep employees engaged and interested in the program after switching to virtual learning.
What we did
- A series of webinars was proposed covering a broad set of financial planning topics, expanding beyond a sole focus on retirement.
- An invitation was sent out to all employees with a calendar of events for the full year, detailed descriptions of each session and links to register.
- This allowed employees to get a sense of what was on offer and to immediately register for the sessions that they were interested in attending.
- After each session, the number of registrants and attendees were recorded. Attendees were asked to complete a brief feedback and satisfaction survey.
- This data was used to understand what topics were hitting the mark and what topics were not as popular with attendees.
- The client was also able to understand how many attendees were likely to only attend one session or multiple sessions throughout the year. An indication of how many attendees were super fans of the program versus those that were more selective in choosing the sessions to attend.
- While early measurement metrics helped to understand engagement and enthusiasm for the program overall and the individual session, the client also wanted to predict what sessions attendees would be interested in attending in the future so attendees were asked to indicate what future topics they would like to learn more about in feedback surveys.
- Pre-pandemic, it was common to have a dozen or so employees attend an in-person retirement seminar. Given that the client has offices in major cities across the country, this required travel to various locations at a significant cost, considerable time away from work as it was a full day session and a more limited audience as only those going into an office would participate.
- The switch to webinars in the early part of the pandemic saw attendance rise dramatically. The typical webinar had over 100 attendees in 2020 and into the first half of 2021.
- Engagement dipped in the latter half of 2021 as some earlier sessions were repeated. However, it was at this time that attendees were encouraged to indicate their preferred future topics.
- This data was instrumental in adjusting the type of topics that were delivered in 2022 and as a result the most popular topics that year saw engagement numbers approaching the metrics from 2020.
The feedback survey data in conjunction with semi-annual planning meetings, continues to provide the data needed to ensure the program continues a valuable learning experience for employees.
GO with Eckler is a quarterly newsletter to help employers and plan sponsors support financial wellness for their employees and plan members. Please contact your Eckler consultant if you want to learn more about supporting financial wellness in your workplace.
1.According to a recent survey conducted by human resources software provider Ceridian, in partnership with the Financial Wellness Lab of Canada.