Employer FinHealth Toolkit

Design for Engagement

For many employers, encouraging employees to use their benefits optimally is an age-old challenge. Use these strategies to promote engagement with your financial health programs.

Design for Engagement

How Can I Encourage Employees to Use Financial Health Solutions?

Once you’ve identified the employee financial health needs you want to address and made plans to implement new solutions or adjust existing programs, how can you make sure that your employees will take advantage of these benefits? If you already have solutions in place to support employees’ financial health but are not seeing the levels of engagement you expect, how can you encourage more employees to use them?

Fortunately, insights from the disciplines of behavioral science and human-centered design can uncover strategies that encourage employees to use solutions fully.

3 Steps for Designing for Engagement

Listen to your employees and consider their perspectives.

Use behavioral insights to simplify benefits decisions, motivate employees, and provide support.

Apply behaviorally informed design principles at key moments throughout the employee relationship.

Using Behavioral Science and Human-Centered Design to Promote Engagement

To inform the recommendations in this section of the Toolkit, the Financial Health Network partnered with Dalberg Design, a human-centered design research firm. We sought to understand common barriers that prevent employees, particularly low-wage employees, from utilizing the financial health benefits available to them. We also tested concepts and strategies that employers might leverage to help employees take advantage of their benefits to improve their financial health.

This research included in-depth interviews with 34 low-wage workers, with most making less than $16 an hour. Two-thirds of the participants were women and a similar percentage were people of color. They represented a variety of geographies and industries, with the majority working in service-based industries such as healthcare, food service, and retail.

The research took place in two distinct phases.

  • The first phase sought to understand low-wage employees’ experiences with financial health benefits: How do they understand their options? How do they choose which benefits to use? What happens when they need to use their benefits?
  • The second phase involved sharing a few simple prototypes for strategies and messages that employers could use when communicating about financial health benefits. Some participants participated in only one phase, while others participated in both.

Feedback from the research participants, combined with insights from behavioral science academic literature, points to numerous opportunities covered in this section for employers to increase employee engagement with their benefits.


Step 1: Understand Barriers