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Guest view: Companies can benefit from a dose of financial wellness

By ,
Anthony M. Conte
Anthony M. Conte - (Photo / )

You're lucky … Well, maybe that's inaccurate. “Fortunate” could be the word. It's no secret that you're fortunate.

You’ve put long hours into your business and you’ve given up much that others have embraced in an effort to push your business forward. It’s your baby and ultimately your figurative and literal fortune.

I use the word “lucky” because so many business owners describe their incredible fortune in life to me as a function of “luck.”

Many successful business owners have humility to thank for much of their success and that character trait then leads them to describe their spate of intelligent decisions and shrewd business acumen as a function of luck. But as an avid reader of Jim Collins, Robert Greenleaf, and the like, I often press entrepreneurs on this point by asking them “to what do you owe your business success?”

I find that a second, more accurate response frequently follows: “Our business wouldn’t exist without the amazing people who have chosen to stick with us through the good and the bad times.” Or, more simply, “Our people are instrumental to our success.”

The cost of “unstuck”

A Society of Human Resource Management study reports that the cost of replacing an employee is often as high as six to nine months of that employee’s salary, a cost that covers finding and training a replacement.

Some business owners consider themselves stuck with employees who may have become a burden, but the bulk of successful small businesses have their employee base to thank for their success.

No matter what business you are in, nearly every one is a people business, requiring sales, support and operations staff. Let’s face it; you want your employees “stuck” with you because they want to be with you. Great morale doesn’t just fall from the summer sky like the first fat, wet raindrops of a summer storm; it has to be cultivated with a mixture of benefits and services that set you and your firm apart from your competitors.

How to care

Employees want to feel as if their boss or the owner of the company cares deeply about their successes and shares in their failures. Those business owners who candidly share their own successes and failures help to humanize themselves to their employees. Face it, you are one of them and as soon as they understand this, they become colleagues of yours who can help you to move your business forward because it is not just your business but their business too.

One way to show that you care is to build a strong platform of benefits and resources for your employees that provide to them a value they might not get elsewhere.

Let’s not rehash the variety of retirement savings plans that can be available to employers and their staff as we have already covered so much of this over the years. Instead, I’d prefer to focus on how to make a retirement plan, deferred compensation plan, pension plan, employee stock option plan, or other type of savings, insurance or group employee benefit meaningful for employees.

Techno-fail

Just as technology can usher in efficiencies and cost-saving opportunities in business, it can also help to strengthen the quality of employees’ retirement plan benefits. The best retirement savings plan websites will help clarify for participants their investment returns and reasonable expectations for future income. Given access to the right online tools, participants will learn more about their own specific financial situation and how their employee benefits can supplement it.

But relying solely on online calculators and metrics of success too often puts the onus on employees to attempt to understand the complicated financial world without the benefit of the human factor: truly suitable, specific insight into each individual’s financial prospects for the future.

The best retirement plan benefits are supplemented by strong participant education on a group basis and individual planning guidance for those interested enough to request it.

When employees begin to better understand their family’s current financial situation they can then work to crystallize their long-term goals. When those goals come into focus, only then does the true value of a benefit plan materialize.

Participation rates increase dramatically when individual financial planning guidance is given, and most employers who find the perfect mix of strong benefits, a wealth of online tools and the human factor to help direct employees to the tools to help them will find that their employee base feels valued.

These are the employees who will work harder and stay with a company longer because they can feel, viscerally, the extent to which an employer has invested in each employee’s success.

Financial fitness programs

Demand more of your team of advisers.

That an employee benefits package should offer efficiency and ease of use, and that the advisers implementing it show sufficient product knowledge to articulate it to employees, is expecting the bare minimum of your benefits team. While that kind of service may have been sufficient 15 or 20 years ago, benefits providers today should go much further to forge relationships with employees and provide financial fitness and literacy programs to benefits participants.

Data provided by Bankrate shows that financial stress impacts 45 percent of all employees and it distracts 20 percent of all workers. In addition, 63 percent of Americans don’t have any emergency fund saved up to help protect them from unexpected, often disastrous events.

When attempting to address employee retention, those companies deciding that employee issues are company issues and should be handled as such ultimately benefit.

Consider offering financial wellness programs to help employees get their respective financial houses in order. Qualified individuals like certified financial planners can often be tapped to offer these programs at little to no cost, and if the programs are offered during regular company hours, employees will often choose to attend and learn.

Happier and financially healthier employees that have their company to thank for helping them to achieve financial stability will feel a debt of gratitude to their employer and everyone will win.

Anthony M. Conte is managing partner at Conte Wealth Advisors based in Camp Hill. He can be reached at tconte@contewealth.com.

Registered Representative Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Conte Wealth Advisors LLC are not affiliated.

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