Diagnose Needs

Step 3: Prioritize Needs

Ensure your benefits programs are leading to positive financial health outcomes for all employees by prioritizing the needs of those who are struggling the most.

Step 3: Prioritize Needs

Prioritize Employee Needs to Close Gaps

Once you have gathered data on employees’ needs and how they differ by employee segment, you should begin to prioritize. No one program or solution will address all of your employees’ needs, so where should you start?

To maximize the impact of your investments and increase equity among segments of your workforce, consider three recommended ways to prioritize the needs you’ve identified.

Focus on the needs of Financially Coping and Vulnerable employees
Use the FinHealth Score to segment your employees into three tiers – Healthy, Coping, and Vulnerable – then see which areas of financial health each group is struggling with most. Targeting the needs of your employees who are Financially Coping and Vulnerable will ensure that your investments are reaching those who stand to reap the greatest benefit.
Prioritize the most acute needs.
Some of the financial health challenges you uncover have immediate implications, while others have longer-term impacts. For example, employees who can’t pay all of their bills on time risk damaging their credit scores, having their utilities shut off, or even being evicted. They will also have a harder time saving for retirement and may not take advantage of the company match. While providing your employees with support for retirement savings or other long-term needs is also critical, your efforts may fall short unless you address immediate challenges first.
Address disparities between employee segments.

Benefits programs are often designed based on the principle of equality – providing the same benefits to all employees.Yet even if benefits are available to all employees, it is important to consider which employees are currently using them. Could gaps in utilization among demographic groups or types of workers indicate some groups are less aware of certain benefits than others? Or that barriers or biases prevent certain employees from taking advantage? Answering these questions can point the way toward potential solutions to increase uptake.

Beyond equal access and utilization, an effective financial health strategy must embrace equity as a guiding principle. This means driving toward equal outcomes for all employees.

For example, equity-based approaches could include:

  • Offering benefits specifically targeted at groups of employees with greater financial health challenges, such as childcare subsidies or transportation assistance for frontline workers.
  • Implementing a tiered benefits structure, in which lower-wage employees pay a lower proportion of healthcare premiums or earn more generous incentives for participating in wellness programs.
  • Adjusting benefits design features to make benefits easier to use, such as facilitating direct payments from a flexible spending account rather than requiring employees to submit for reimbursement, which can pose a challenge for employees who don’t have a financial cushion.

Building a Holistic Strategy

These are not three distinct approaches to prioritizing needs, but rather are slightly different paths to identifying the actions you can take that are likely to have the greatest impact on your workforce. A best-in-class financial health strategy will take a holistic approach to addressing all of your employees’ needs. But building such a strategy takes time, and the steps described above can help you decide where to begin.

Employer Spotlight: Bank of America

Equity in Benefits

Recognizing that healthcare premiums make up a significant percentage of employees’ take-home pay, particularly for lower-wage workers, Bank of America varies its medical premium contribution by annual pay level, with larger subsidies for those earning less. Since 2012, the company has not raised medical premiums for employees earning less than $50,000.7 As of 2019, only a quarter of large employers varied their contributions to healthcare premiums based on employee pay levels.8

Diagnose Needs: Key Takeaways

Diagnosing employees’ financial needs is the first step in an effective employee financial health program. Before you continue on to Identify Solutions, make sure you’ve taken the time to…

Step 1: Gather Relevant Data
There are two key ways to diagnose employees’ needs: mining existing HR, benefits, and payroll data, and surveying employees. Using these two data sources together can provide you with the most holistic picture of your employees’ financial health.

Step 2: Disaggregate Data
Assessing data by important demographic and job characteristics can help you prioritize needs and ensure that your benefits programs are leading to positive financial health outcomes for all employees.

Step 3: Prioritize Needs
Choosing a strategy to prioritize needs is critical for effective execution. Once you’ve evaluated employee needs, you can decide where to focus based on financial health status, acute need, or disparity of outcomes.


Identify Solutions