Financial Literacy and Its Link to Overall Well-Being: The "Cluster Effect"
13 Dec, 2018, 06:59 ET
Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Hosts the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and BestLifeRewarded Innovations to present to Stakeholders during a Financial Literacy and Wellness Webinar
OAKVILLE, ON, Dec. 13, 2018 /CNW/ -
On December 6, 2018 in honour of Financial Literacy Month, the Financial Literacy and Wellness presentation focused on the relationship between financial well-being and overall wellness, as well as what tools and resources can be used to support employee health and well-being.
Maria Vranas, Manager, Financial Literacy Program | Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)
- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is a federal government agency responsible for protecting consumers of financial services and products. FCAC was established in 2001 by the federal government to strengthen oversight of consumer issues and expand consumer education in the financial sector. View their online programs, tools and resources.
Susanne Cookson, Co-founder, BestLifeRewarded Innovations Inc.
- BestLifeRewarded Innovations (BLRi) currently services over 12,000 employers, supporting more than 3 million Canadians. A customizable platform that elevates organizational health and wellness programming, BLRi's innovative system combines proven behaviour-change models to motivate members to embrace the benefits of healthy living. To learn more visit www.bestliferewardedinnovations.com.
Webinar summary: Part I (FCAC)
The relationship between financial literacy and wellness
Money is the leading cause of stress in Canada—and around the world. According to recent studies, 41% of Canadians feel money is their greatest source of stress while it's cited as the number 1 concern for citizens in over 20 countries surveyed (Financial Planning Standards Council, 2018; Canadian Payroll Association, 2018; GFK, 2015). Financial-related stress impacts our health and can cause an increase in a variety of troubling physical symptoms such as migraines, depression and anxiety.
The impact of financial stress in the workplace
Financial stress doesn't discriminate—it impacts everyone regardless of your age or income level. In addition to affecting the overall health of employees, it's been found to negatively influence employee performance in the workplace. Financial stress can reduce employee focus, weaken company morale and increase benefit costs such as sick leave. Given its profound impact on organizations, employers have an important role to play when it comes to employee financial literacy.
Benefits of workplace wellness programs
The good news is that there are many things employers can do to support financial wellness in the workplace. Doing so can lead to a variety of organizational benefits such as increases in brand recognition, better staff retention, lower absenteeism and higher productivity to name a few. Employees are receptive to receiving financial wellness support in the workplace, with 84% stating they would be interested in receiving such information from their employer (Canadian Payroll Association, 2018).
Wellness program support for employers
FCAC partnered with BestLifeRewarded Innovations (BLRi) last year to launch a workplace initiative that provided tools to better support employee financial wellness programs – more about the MoneyFit Challenge is provided below. It included research, communications materials, outreach activities, as well as new online tools and resources from FCAC. You can find these online programs, tools and resources, including a workplace financial literacy page at Canada.ca/financial-literacy.
FCAC will also be launching new web content in 2019 on financial wellness programs in the workplace. The content is based on industry best-practices, and will provide both employers with strategies to improve the financial well-being of their employees.
Webinar summary: Part II (BLRi)
The economic impact of wellness
When it comes to wellness, prevention is the key priority. Of the three well-being pillars (physical, mental and financial) some are more naturally thought of than others—but they're all interrelated. It is widely known that the five modifiable risk factors for chronic disease (excess weight, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking and excessive use of alcohol) contribute to hefty costs to the Canadian economy—an estimated $69.4 billion is spent annually (Krueger, 2016). Awareness surrounding mental and financial health, however, has also grown exponentially in the last five years. People are increasingly aware that money worries are a significant driver for workplace stress, and financial hardship can lead to significant mental health issues. Mental, physical and financial health challenges tend to have a "cluster effect," compounding their impact. Symptoms such as a chronic lack of sleep, low exercise levels or increased alcohol usage work together, amplifying employee productivity challenges and causing serious financial consequences for employers.
Doing nothing costs a lot of money
While tacking these issues requires employer investment, the cost of doing nothing is simply too high to ignore. Canadian health behaviour issues cost the economy $242 billion annually, and that number is going up by 4% each year (CIHI, 2017). Poor employee health costs employers big in the form of things like absenteeism, presenteeism, short and long-term disability and premature death. While it can be challenging to accomplish, personalized intervention supported by a well-organized and proven behaviour change model can help reduce these risks.
Behaviour change that actually works
When it comes to effective behaviour change programs, there are five key elements for success—education, understanding individual motivations, skill building, social support and tools that allow for tracking over time. These five elements are based on a combination of scientifically-proven behaviour models which include: the use of incentives, beliefs, stages of change and adherence. Today's technology allows us to apply these proven techniques in tailored ways for more effective health interventions and sustained health behaviour change in employees.
Sustained behaviour change best practices
Sustained behaviour change should always be the primary goal when it comes to employee wellness initiatives. The following program best practices will help support this outcome:
- Personalization that uses evidence-based behaviour models to address an employee's specific needs.
- Small steps action plans that help ensure employees are not overwhelmed by what needs to be done.
- Reward effort and outcome by recognizing that every effort is meaningful, regardless of size or outcome.
- Integrate off-line/existing initiatives with today's technology in a way that allows you to gather better metrics.
- Make your program easy, fun and engaging because even if you have a best-in-class platform or product, it's useless if your employees aren't using it.
- Measure baseline and change over time to help secure ongoing program investment and even generate organizational top employer status.
- Communicate program results to both senior management and people using the platform to encourage engagement.
- Continuously improve and evolve to meet the needs of your employees.
In addition, you should always be assessing your organization's readiness to change and use your findings to help drive education priorities. For example, if your Health Risk Assessment survey shows many employees don't get enough sleep, and most of them want to do something about it, as an organization you could arrange supplemental activities, such as a lunch and learn about the importance of sleep quality to help bridge the gap. Look at your results data every six months to review the progress of your program along the way. Ensure that needs are being addressed and that your program is having an impact.
Real-life example: MoneyFit Challenge
FCAC and BLRi partnered with Excellence Canada and Economic Club of Canada to launch the MoneyFit Challenge. Designed to improve financial literacy, MoneyFit was open to all Canadians and offered $30,000 in prizes to be won. A year in review assessment showed this initiative was used by 44 organizations, and 1005 people registered. There was a pre and post assessment to measure baseline and change over time in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes toward financial well-being. The effort saw a 50% improvement from baseline concerning people's confidence in reaching their financial goals. From a future direction standpoint, next year's goal is to increase pre and post assessment participation, while providing more FCAC tools, reminder emails and other resources to ensure people stay engaged and the user experience is the best that it can be.
The MoneyFit Challenge is available and FREE to join!
Register your organization today at www.MoneyFitChallenge.com
SOURCE BestLifeRewarded Innovations Inc.
For further information: Susanne Cookson, 905-599-6045
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