There are two key ways to gain insight on your employees’ financial health – gathering data from administrative systems, and asking employees directly through surveys or other qualitative methods. Use these two data sources together for the most holistic picture.
While HR, benefits, and payroll data can provide a valuable window into your employees’ financial lives, that view is limited to the aspects of their finances connected to your current benefits programs. For example, if your company offers a 401(k), you probably have a good sense of how prepared your employees are for retirement, but may not know how prepared they are for emergencies.
Supplementing your existing data with an employee survey can provide deeper insights into the areas where your employees are struggling the most and help uncover potential solutions. The FinHealth ScoreⓇ is a free tool that can offer a holistic picture of your employees’ financial health. It includes eight simple survey questions that assess how your employees are spending, saving, borrowing, and planning. You can also add additional questions to probe deeper in specific areas, such as retirement preparedness or debt. Focus groups or other qualitative methods can lead to even greater insights.
These two methods can be used in either order or even simultaneously. The most effective approaches to diagnosing needs combine both methods to give you the most holistic look at your employees’ financial health. Where you choose to start depends on several factors, including what kinds of data are available and how easy they are for you to access, your organization’s data analytics capabilities, and your readiness to engage directly with employees about financial health in a survey.
It can sometimes be helpful to start by reviewing existing data, because you can then use those insights to inform the survey design. For example, by looking at your 401(k) plan data, you might find that a large percentage of your employees have taken out loans from their retirement accounts. This could be a sign that they lack emergency savings that can help them cover spikes in expenses, or that they do not have other affordable loan options due to a poor credit history. You can then add questions to your survey to help answer these questions.
On the other hand, there can also be benefits to starting with a survey. A financial health survey provides an opportunity to communicate to your employees that their financial health is a priority for the company and to explain initiatives you are planning or currently have underway.
You can use your survey to probe deeper into specific areas that are important to your company. Additional questions can help you uncover root causes of employee pain points identified in your data analysis, such as a high number of 401(k) loans, and shed light on blind spots you are likely to have as an employer, such as your employees’ debt. A financial health survey can also be a great way to gather feedback from employees on current or potential benefit offerings.
One useful resource to consider for additional questions is the Financial Health Pulse. Through our annual Pulse survey, the Financial Health Network offers ongoing snapshots of how people in America manage their finances. You can even benchmark your employees against the national population by downloading the Pulse dataset.
For many HR leaders, asking employees about their finances may feel uncomfortable at first. While there is plenty of evidence that employees are looking to their employers for help, sending out an employee financial health survey requires a thoughtful approach to communications.4
Here are some tips for deploying a successful survey:
University Federal Credit Union, a $3.6 billion asset credit union with more than 300,000 members in Central Texas and Galveston, took a creative approach to encouraging its 740 employees to take its financial health survey. UFCU’s Financial Health Department created a prize-based incentive, but with a twist: If they reached a 70% survey participation rate, then all 740 employees would be entered into a raffle to win a choice between a $500 Target gift card or $500 voucher to a local resort. This created a strong motivation for teams to encourage one another to participate while still protecting confidentiality for all. In the end, 77% of employees completed the survey.
The FinHealth ScoreⓇ includes eight simple survey questions that assess how your employees are spending, saving, borrowing, and planning. This free tool comes with a scoring methodology to help you quickly calculate each employee’s FinHealth Score and know if they are Financially Healthy, Coping, or Vulnerable. It also provides benchmarks so you can see how your employees compare to others at the national level. Additional benchmarks by age, education, household income, and region are available to members of our Employer FinHealth Forum. To learn more about how the FinHealth Score was developed and how individual scores are calculated, visit our Methodology page.
Attune is an all-in-one technology platform that makes it easy for employers to measure, benchmark, and gather insights on employee financial health. Built on the research of the Financial Health Network, Attune helps you quickly understand your employees’ financial health needs, learn what actions you can take to improve their financial health, and track the impact those actions have over time. Designed with employers in mind, Attune can be deployed as a standalone survey to your employees or integrated into your existing survey platforms. Contact us to learn more and schedule a demo.
Led by JUST Capital and PayPal, in collaboration with the Financial Health Network and the Good Jobs Institute, the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative is calling on the CEOs of America’s largest companies to make assessing the financial health of their workforce a C-suite and investor priority. The Initiative provides participating employers with tools, support, peer learning, and public opportunities to celebrate corporate leadership. Reach out to learn more and get involved.