Category Archives: Total Rewards

Financial Wellness is Officially a Thing

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If you’ve ever had an employee lose their home to foreclosure, if you’ve ever had an employee lose everything in a fire, if you’ve ever had an employee deal with the costs of catastrophic medical bills, then you know that personal financial pressures are not good for your workplace. The personal financial pressures beating down on one employee impact the whole workgroup. Everyone’s productivity drops. And how an employer responds (or doesn’t respond) tells a lot about the values of the organization.

There are the “social” responses: let’s raise money so Sue can pay for her husband’s medical bills not covered by our health insurance; let’s donate clothes and furniture for Bob and his family whose house burned down; or, does anyone know of a house that Beth and Mary Ellen can rent till they get on their feet?

On the surface, these are all caring and supportive organizational responses that are frequently organized by the HR Department. But let’s step back for a minute.

What if Sue and her husband had attended financial planning seminars that had delved into how to be prepared for unexpected medical costs? What if Bob had spent time one-on-one with a financial planner every year and had an emergency fund ready to go when his family lost its house? What if Beth and Mary Ellen together had spent time with an investment advisor and as a result never bought the house they gave back to the bank because they couldn’t afford it?

Financial wellness – an emerging recognition that health is about more than the physical body – is becoming more than a topic of conversation. It’s becoming a subcategory of services and benefits that employers are deploying within their total rewards packages. It used to be that only the C-Suite got financial planning support as part of their compensation. But more and more employers are recognizing that personal financial stress can be as negative in relation to employee productivity and engagement as other types of stress. And they are stepping up by providing access to apps like HelloWallet, as well as services like annual financial planning seminars and access to financial counselors all year long.

In a recent white paper, Financial Wellness, The Future of Work, Matt Fellowes and Jake Spiegel give an overview of the rise of financial wellness as an employer concern and describe the historical macro-economic context within which employers are paying attention to the financial health of their employees. It’s an interesting read and some of the data involve huge sums of money. It does an excellent job of connecting the macro (the economic trends) with the micro (your individual employees).

It’s interesting to note the birth of the Financial Wellness category as shown in the chart below:

Aug 11 2015 Hello Wallet

Born in the Great Depression (2007-2009), the steady rise of interest in this category can be understood as chronicled through media attention.

Many employers are looking for cost effective solutions that will help their employees avert personal financial disaster. Many old school benefits providers are adding programs and a great many start-ups are tackling this need as well.

Helping Sue, Bob, Beth and Mary Ellen – and their colleagues – before personal financial disaster strikes may not be just a “nice to have” in today’s complex economic environment. It might be one of the benefits features that makes your organization more attractive to prospective employees and that makes your organization more sticky for existing employees.

Join me tomorrow at 11:00amPDT/2:00pmEDT for a webinar in which we’ll take a look at the cultural values that make this kind of benefit make sense. You may register here:  http://info.hellowallet.com/2015.08Webinar.ChinaGorman.html.

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Filed under C-suite, China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Financial Wellness, HelloWallet, Total Rewards

Data Analytics: Too Sophisticated for HR?

Mercer and WorldatWork have collaborated again on a survey and report about current total rewards/compensation trends in metrics and analytics.  The focus of the research was to understand what types of analytics are currently being conducted and what technologies are being used to conduct them.

It’s an interesting report – especially from the vantage point of what it says about the relationship between HR and data and HR and analytics.  The survey was fielded in February, 2012 to compensation leaders who are WorldatWork members (the dataset held 560 scrubbed responses , a final 10.9% response rate), so they all have more than a passing knowledge of the total rewards function.

The big takeaways of the survey data are that:

  • Rather than use sophisticated analytical approaches like projections, simulations and predictive modeling to support decision making, organizations are more likely to use ongoing reports and benchmarking from internal and external peer groups.
  • Survey respondents report lack of access to and confidence in data regarding education competencies/capabilities and training investments – critical to workforce analytics.
  • Compensation professionals may be falling behind their colleagues in other HR functional areas in their adoption of more sophisticated analytics methodologies.

The report discusses why adoption of more powerful analytics is low despite 67% of respondents indicating adequate skill levels to engage in higher level analytics and almost half (47%) having 1 -2 FTEs tasked with HR-related analytics.  More important, 75% of the respondents reported that C-suite executives in their organizations have asked for workforce projections, simulations or predictive modeling.

Mercer and WorldatWork point out that while respondents report that some data is not available or of poor quality, 75% of respondents say their organizations are working to improve the consistency of their data. Paradoxically, 52% are unclear where responsibility for data integrity lies.

I found it interesting that the researchers suggest that “unavailable” data may result from a lack of interest in the data rather than an ability to access it.  A compelling point.

From the responses outlined in the exhibit above, one could readily agree with the researchers that critical workforce information about education, competencies, prior work experience and investments in training aren’t top of mind for compensation professionals. It could easily be that compensation professionals believe these datasets and their analysis more naturally belong to other HR functions:  learning/development and talent management/acquisition.

The writers argue that rewards/compensation professionals have a preoccupation with the behavioral side of rewards and overlook the “asset side” – the impact of rewards on the ability of the organization to acquire appropriate talent.

The bottom line for the researchers is to encourage rewards/compensation professionals to begin to think more expansively – and use higher levels of analytics – on the role of rewards in driving human capital development and business success and focus a little less on salary competitiveness and pay-performance sensitivity as performance drivers.

A very interesting report and very useful data as you begin to plan your 2013 budget.  Stepping up your workforce analytics sophistication could be a game changer for your organization.

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Filed under C-suite, China Gorman, Employee Benefits, Engagement, HR Analytics, HR Data, HR Technology, Mercer, Rewards & Recognition, Talent Management, Total Rewards, WorldatWork