Build your financial wellness program content

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

You’ve received approval to implement a financial wellness program. You know what resources you’re working with and you’re ready to build the program. But how do you go about setting one up? These strategies can help you create a successful program. 

Build a program based on your employees’ needs

To build a successful, effective financial wellness program that meets the needs of your employees, you’ll need a good understanding of their financial challenges, needs and preferences. The best way to develop this is to ask them (see Assess your employees’ needs). 

After assessing your employees’ needs, take a close look at the results. This can help you determine things like:

  • your employees’ knowledge, attitudes and confidence when it comes to money matters
  • biggest financial challenges for your employees
  • the financial stresses that are having the greatest impact on your workplace
  • topics your employees want covered or that they find difficult to understand
  • your employees’ financial goals
  • demographics (such as age range, salary range and work location that could influence their financial needs, life events and delivery channels  

The findings from your employee needs assessment will also help you determine what content and delivery methods will work best. Use that information to answer questions like:

Tip: Continuous improvement

If you already offer a financial wellness program, a needs assessment or outcomes analysis can help you identify what’s working, what’s not and what you can do to improve it. 

Select the right content for your organization

Use the results of your employee needs assessment, along with the strategies in this section, to choose and prioritize the topics to cover in your program.  

A workplace financial wellness program can address many different issues and topics. To ensure your program is successful, offer initiatives that are:

  • relevant to employees’ specific concerns, financial situations and knowledge levels
  • available when employees need them

A well-rounded financial education program will help employees achieve both their short- and long-term financial goals. It should cover a variety of topics under the themes of budgeting, saving, borrowing and planning. For example:

  • Preparing a budget
  • Tracking your spending
  • Living within your means
  • Importance of an emergency fund
  • Understanding registered savings plans and tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs)
  • Bank accounts
  • Saving for a major purchase or down payment
  • Saving for your own education
  • Saving for your children’s education
  • Saving for retirement (including information about your organization’s specific retirement plan, if applicable)
  • Investing
  • Understanding your rights and responsibilities when banking
  • Understanding your rights and responsibilities with regards to savings and investments
  • Basics of credit
  • Managing debt
  • Loans, credit cards and lines of credit
  • Understanding your credit report and score
  • Mortgages
  • Student loans
  • Payday loans
  • Understanding your rights and responsibilities when borrowing
  • Setting financial goals
  • Creating a financial plan
  • Tax planning
  • Government pension plans, such as the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) and Old Age Security (OAS)
  • Pre-retirement planning
  • Post-retirement planning
  • Wills and estate planning
  • Insurance (this could include information on your benefits plan)
  • Protecting yourself from fraud and identity theft 

Tip: Simplicity is best

People often struggle with their finances because they find dealing with money confusing. Simplify it for them. Avoid using jargon and technical terms. Instead, use plain language that all employees can understand regardless of their level of education or financial expertise. 

Include relevant life events

Another factor to consider is the timeliness of the financial information you offer. Your employees will have different financial concerns and needs depending on the stages of their lives and careers. Your financial wellness program should offer information that is relevant for each of these stages. Consider addressing the following life events within your program:

  • starting a new job or starting your first job
  • buying a home
  • living as a couple
  • starting a family
  • paying for your children’s education
  • getting separated or divorced
  • supporting elderly parents
  • supporting adult children
  • getting ready to retire

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) provides free, unbiased financial information to Canadians by life event that may be helpful.

Tip: Start small if resources are tight

If you don’t have the time or resources to implement a comprehensive financial wellness program right away, start small. Offer quality content on one or two topics (based on your employee needs assessment). Use free resources to save time and money. See Financial wellness resources for employers.

Once you’ve chosen the topics you want to cover, you can figure out which delivery channels are best suited to your organization and when to offer program.

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