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How to Support Financial Wellness for Members

By Deborah Lynn Blumberg | Jul 20, 2020

During periods of economic hardship, supporting members' well-being often means looking out for their financial wellness as well. Helping them improve their financial health and work toward their financial goals offers a path to better overall health and success.

The Impact of Financial Health

Members who are financially well can handle expenses like hospital bills and home repairs while still paying off debts, saving for their children's education and planning for retirement.

But many workers are in stressful financial situations, and they may be preoccupied and less productive while at work. A survey by Salary Finance found that 48% of employees worry about money, and that fretting collectively leads to about $500 billion in lost productivity costs for employers. Further, employees who are financially stressed are also more than twice as likely to change jobs and may suffer from mental health concerns such as panic or anxiety attacks and even depression.

5 Ways to Improve Members' Financial Wellness

In 2015, just 24% of employers offered financial wellness programs. More than half do now, according to a Bank of America survey. Here are five ways to join in on that promising trend and support members' financial health.

1. Help With Basic Financial Education

Financial advisors can help people prioritize — should you pay off debt, add to savings or maybe a little of both? A financial advisor can be expensive, so consider having an adviser hold a seminar on financial basics. Topics might include emergency planning, saving for retirement or investing. You might also consider partnering with a local bank, which can send a representative to talk about saving and investing options.

2. Provide Financial Planning Resources

Guide members toward programs that center on refining money management skills, from making a budget to how to pay off debt. Free online resources include MyMoney.gov, Napkin Finance and the National Endowment for Financial Education. Let members know that there are many resources available, but suggest a few they can explore and share with family.

3. Educate Members on Benefits

Using benefits wisely saves money. Make sure members are aware of all benefits available to them, and help them understand which ones they could take advantage of to save. Turn their attention to often-overlooked benefits like health care spending accounts, flexible spending accounts, discount programs and reimbursement for tuition and training. Some members may also want to contribute to a 401(k) plan, especially if an employer offers a match program.

4. Cover Financial Well-Being in Union Newsletters

Consider adding a regular article on financial tips to your union newsletter so that financial well-being is top of mind for members. Alternatively, invite a financial expert into your community to contribute a column to the newsletter on different topics. An advice column could also pose different scenarios for guest experts to weigh in on.

5. Reach Out to Members in Need

To help those who might be struggling financially, let all members know they can come to you privately to discuss their situation. If you hear of a member's hardship, call them directly to see how you might be able to help. With the details in hand, you may be able to find more specialized resources to help.

As members face difficult economic conditions, being on top of their finances is more critical than ever. Encourage your members to start thinking now about how they can improve their financial health so they're better situated for whatever future lies ahead.

 

With 15 years' experience writing for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, The Christian Science Monitor and Newsday—Deborah Blumberg specializes in business and finance and health and wellness. She writes about topics including corporate communications, financial markets, real estate, renewable energy, cancer, health education, nutrition, supplements, the microbiome and functional medicine. She was a Knight Center fellow and a Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism fellow. Her time working in marketing and communications at JPMorgan Chase taught her how to best tell a company's story. She's adept at turning complex ideas into compelling copy. She's also an officer of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and a Women in the Visual and Literary Arts board member, and she is fluent in Spanish.

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