Communicate your financial wellness program

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

The success of your workplace financial wellness program depends a lot on how you promote it. These strategies can help you roll out your program effectively and increase employee participation.

Sell your program to your employees

Once your financial wellness program is ready to implement, you’ll need to let your employees know about it. Consider these strategies to help spread the message and keep employees engaged. 

Get champions and ambassadors involved

Champions and ambassadors can actively promote the program, talk about its benefits, and encourage employees to take part. Employees are more likely to be interested in a program if people they trust are the ones promoting it. Senior management (such as the CEO) should champion the program to show the organization’s commitment. Engage managers and front-line employees to be ambassadors of the program. 

Tip: Make it easy for champions and ambassadors

Create a checklist of activities they can do to promote the program. These could include talking about the program at team meetings, putting posters up on their office wall, writing an internal blog, and leading by example. Encourage them to share personal stories of financial challenges or lessons learned. 

Promote the benefits of the program 

Help employees understand why you are offering the financial wellness program. Share with employees how it will help them and how it helps the organization. 

Use positive language 

Whenever possible, use positive, plain language that makes sense to your employees. For example, “Ten ways to save money even when it seems impossible” is likely to generate more interest than “Achieving retirement security’”Footnote 1   Set clear expectations for the program and let employees know what they will get from taking part. 

Target your communications

A one-size-fits-all approach will not ensure you reach employees in a way that is relevant and engaging. Instead, target your communications to create maximum impact. You can make messages more relevant to specific groups of employees by addressing specific career stages and/or life events. For example, employees just starting their careers should receive different messages about savings than those close to retirement. Whenever possible, use messages and communication channels that will grab their attention.

Talk about it everywhere and often 

Use a variety of channels to promote and encourage participation in the program. For example, use emails, an employee portal, meetings, flyers, posters and corporate TV screens (digital signage). Post promotional materials in visible areas to ensure employees see it. This will help you reach all employees. Use existing, trusted communication channels like new employee orientation, staff meetings and company newsletters. 

Let employees know how they can access the program

Make sure employees know exactly how they can participate in the program. Make it easy for them to get details on each part of the program that may interest them. 

Create a culture of financial well-being

Make financial well-being part of your organization’s culture. This means cultivating a workplace that encourages and promotes your employees’ financial well-being. It starts with senior management setting the tone and actively championing the financial wellness program. Here are some examples to help you promote a culture of financial well-being in your workplace:

  • create a short video in which senior management promotes financial well-being in the workplace and communicates its benefits, including why it’s important for your organization
  • provide resources and tools about financial well-being that employees and their families can access any time
  • host events like “Financial Well-Being Day” to promote the importance of financial well-being, your program and how to access resources and tools. If applicable, invite your employee assistance program (EAP), group benefits and retirement savings plan providers to present their services.
  • consider celebrating Financial Literacy Month (FLM) in your workplace every November. This is an ideal time to raise awareness about financial well-being with your employees. There are many free resources and events you can use
Integrate financial wellness into existing programs and processes

To boost participation and get the most benefit from your program, consider making financial wellness part of your existing workplace programs and processes.

For example:

  • consider making certain financial wellness workshops part of the new hire process
  • provide employees going on maternity, adoption or parental leave with information about saving for their child’s education or how to budget while on leave
  • offer mid-career sessions for employees to ensure they are on track for retirement

This will help to generate higher participation and make financial well-being a part of the organizational culture.

Be creative

Have fun with your marketing of the program and find creative ways to sell it to employees. Use graphics or videos that will catch their eye and engage them. Tell stories they can relate to. Don’t be too abstract, keep it simple and easy to understand. You could even have a contest inviting employees to share their ideas for investing in their financial well-being. 

Make it fun with rewards and games

Use rewards to encourage employee participation. Research shows that even small incentives work and are a great way to get people to make positive changes.

But incentives don’t have to be expensive. You can tailor them to meet your budget and employee needs. There are many ways to offer incentives in your program. They could include:

Tangible rewards

Give out rewards for completing tasks. For example, every employee who completes an assessment questionnaire receives a gift card.

Lottery-based rewards

This could include earning points for completing tasks and then trading points for a chance to win prizes. The prizes could range from low-value items (such as $10 to $25 gift cards) to larger items (such as a prize valued at $250).

Non-tangible rewards

These could be in the form of “levelling up” (such as achieving a silver or gold level) as well as certificates and badges of achievement.

Combining different types of incentives could also be exciting! For example, employees could get a reward for completing the employee assessment. They then could earn points for a chance to bid on other prizes as they reach milestones in the program.

Some more examples of incentives include:

  • best parking spot for a week
  • cut the line for coffee in the morning
  • first choice of days off
  • a “go home early on a Friday” pass

Tip: Ask employees for reward ideas

If you are considering incentives for your program, ask your employees what types of rewards would motivate them.

Create your own employee challenges

You can also use games where employees compete against each other. These can be done as individual events or as challenges that take place over time. Some ideas include:

  • organize lunch-and-learn sessions where employees create teams and take part in competitive quizzes on financial topics
  • have a competition that takes place over an extended period. It could include tracking employees’ progress through various modules of a program
  • arrange a 30-day individual or team challenge to achieve specific milestones

Tip: Give group rewards

Help encourage groups of employees to participate in the financial wellness program by providing group incentives. 

Focus on behavioural changes and next steps

Sharing financial knowledge isn’t enough, employees may need a nudge in the right direction to put knowledge into action. Here are some examples of behavioural changes and next steps to help you promote a culture of financial well-being in your workplace:

Help employees see their future

Employees need to see how their lives will improve as a result of making positive financial changes. Give them a real picture of what it would mean to get out of debt, put their child through university or retire on time. The more easily they can visualize the benefits of financial planning—and see themselves in that scenario—the more committed they will be to taking action.

Promote what others are doing right

People are strongly influenced by what others do and using peer and social norms can be an effective way to drive people towards desired actions. When communicating and promoting the program, promote what other employees are doing right. When employees are made aware that a particular action is a trend or a popular behavior, they may be more likely to follow the trend or engage in that behavior themselves. Examples of this could include:

  • 8 out of 10 employees are participating in our financial wellness program.
  • 3 out 5 employees that attended our workshop on budgeting are now following a budget.
Have clear next steps

Each initiative in your financial wellness program should have clear next steps for employees. To make the next steps effective and engaging, consider making them easy and convenient for employees. When the next steps are simple and easy, employees will more likely want to take the course of action. For example, if they attend a session on saving for their child’s education, next steps may include sending employees follow-up links to tools to calculate how much they need to save each month for their child’s education, contribution limits and how to open a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

Send gentle reminders 

Follow up with employees after they have participated in a workshop or other part of your program. Employees may need informational “nudges” in the right direction to put that knowledge into action. For example, if they attended a workshop on creating a budget, send an email a few months later to reinforce the main lessons from the workshop and provide follow-up resources. 

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