The construction industry has shown tremendous growth in the last decade as the economy continues to strengthen. Although strong labor markets have created confidence among some employee groups, almost a third of the American workforce still reports some level of financial stress—and that financial worry is following them into the workplace.
For employers in the construction industry, financial wellness programs can help employees manage their personal finances and external stressors that impact their well-being. By helping construction employees better manage their finances, their reduced stress will directly translate into stronger job performance and improved overall health.
ORIGIN OF STRESS
Before identifying the tools that can help construction companies address employee stressors, it’s important to first understand the most common stressors affecting workers in the construction industry.
Scheduling. Some construction employees are contract workers who often have irregular schedules. Additionally, construction workers typically work more hours than the average American each week. These frequent changes to work schedules and additional workloads have been linked to employee stress.
Construction wages. While management and administrative construction positions have salaries that are comparable to national averages, low wages are common for many employees entering the construction trade. These low wages can have obvious direct implications on job satisfaction and stress outside of work. In fact, construction workers lose an average of 10 hours of sleep each week because of stress. This affects job performance and can cause spikes in job-related safety incidents.
Defining employee needs. Understanding employee demographics and personas can help employers better understand the financial wellness tools that can best address their employees’ stress. Every employee’s financial journey is different, so understanding how different cohorts behave can help employers tailor plans to best meet those needs.
Median age of worker. The median age of the American workforce is 41 years old. Construction workers tend to fall in line closely with this average as a whole, but diving into individual sectors, ages become more varied across jobs. Younger employees tend to work in more labor-intense settings like construction sites, while older employees are more prevalent in skilled-labor jobs like electricians and construction inspectors.
Younger employees. While younger employees have shown more optimism about their financial future than their Gen X counterparts, many millennials haven’t started saving for their retirement yet. Coupled with rising student loan debt, millennials face many sources of financial stress that can impact their job performance.
Older employees. Older employees in an organization may be less concerned with things like getting married or moving out of their parents’ house and are more focused on preparing for retirement or helping their kids get to college. Their immediate and long-term financial goals look different than those of millennials and should be addressed accordingly.
For decades, retirement plans and in-office financial perks have been commonplace for employers looking to provide financial wellness benefits to their employees. Unfortunately, these traditional solutions aren’t necessarily right for every employee.
Construction employers should focus their attention on providing more personalized benefits to employees to best address their individual needs.
Educational tools. For some employees, financial stress may come from a lack of understanding of where they should focus their attention to better manage their finances. On-demand educational resources that help employees navigate retirement, budgeting, getting married, or other common financial stressors can help them feel empowered to make their own financial decisions.
On-demand benefits. In the past, some employers have focused on offering in-person classes in the workplace to answer employees’ financial questions. Unfortunately, this approach requires employees to be present and may not be during a time employees are looking for financial guidance. On-demand resources and advice can help employees when they need it most.
Personalized communication. Similar to on-demand benefits, personalizing communication to different employee groups or personas can have a much bigger impact than mass emails and one-off campaigns. Younger employees may prefer text message reminders to check their open enrollment status, while older employees may prefer handouts and reminders around the office.
Effective financial wellness benefits should include communications to employees in the ways most likely to reach them and adapt to their habits and needs as they navigate their financial journey. Whether it’s reminders about changes to 401k plans or encouraging a budget check-in, personalized communications based on employees’ current goals can yield much better results.
DIGITAL TOOLS FOR BETTER ROI
A common concern from employers about adding additional benefits is that the cost may be prohibitive. In most cases, financial wellness tools are relatively inexpensive—averaging just a few dollars per employee annually.
Strong financial wellness tools should scale with businesses and make it easy to offer education and personalized benefits communication to both existing and new employees. Digital tools can make adding additional employees to a plan convenient and can onboard employees to guide them through understanding their financial pain points and how best start addressing them.
Some organizations that have implemented targeted financial wellness benefits have seen ROIs as high as $7 for every $1 invested. Additionally, employee happiness and overall job satisfaction have increased as well.
No matter the makeup of an organization, it’s likely that many of employees need help navigating their personal finances. Taking a targeted approach with modern educational resources and personalized communications can help employees navigate their own personal financial journey and address the stressors that are affecting their personal and professional lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Whitlow is the founder and CEO of Edukate, a workplace financial wellness provider with a mission to give every person access to expert financial guidance. Chris works with the Edukate team to solve problems that ease the financial stress most Americans experience each day. Edukate helps employers provide the best financial wellness benefits, thus helping employees manage their financial stress, increase their productivity, and live happier, healthier lives. www.edukate.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2018
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