The Well-Being Journal

Are Your Employees Hung Over from the Holidays?

Madison Agee

We’re not talking about the kind of hangover you get from one too many eggnogs, or even a food hangover from too many cookies. We mean a spending hangover. We’ve all been there—opening January’s credit card statement to see just how much damage we did to our wallets during the holidays. Even the most budget-conscious among us may have been a little too generous in December, which means January came as a rude awakening.

Unfortunately, the distraction of financial stress isn’t unique to the holidays. According to a 2014 survey by PwC, nearly a quarter of employees say their finances are a distraction while at work. This is especially a concern for millennials, 35 percent of whom are diverting their on-the-job attention to managing issues related to personal finance. Research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management confirms that financial stress is a concern for many HR professionals—61 percent say it’s having “some impact” on work performance, while another 22 percent concede it’s a “large impact.”

The PwC research went a step further and quantified how much productive time organizations are losing to their employees’ financial worries. Nearly one in four employees (39 percent) are spending three or more hours per week thinking about or managing their personal finances. In 2012, MetLife found that another 22 percent have admitted to taking unexpected time off to deal with a financial issue.

And it’s not just reductions to on-the-job productivity that could be negatively influencing your bottom line. As we’ve discussed here before, financial stress can lead to serious health and well-being risks, such as cardiovascular disease, depression and substance abuse. These risks can then translate into a number of unwelcome outcomes for both employee and employer, such as higher healthcare costs and increased absenteeism.

The good news is that many employers are realizing the negative impact their employees’ finances are having on their bottom line and addressing this through financial wellness programs. MetLife revealed that 40 percent of employers are offering some sort of financial education program to their workers, although the makeup of these programs can vary considerably. Having an annual visit from the 401(k) representative may be a good start to managing employees’ financial stress, but this may not be the most important way you can help your workers.

It’s important to remember that financial well-being is part of a larger well-being context, interrelated to your employees’ sense of purpose, physical health, social relationships and community connections. Addressing all of these elements together can bolster the overall success of efforts aimed at helping your employees avoid spending hangovers and other sources of financial stress in the future.

To learn more about financial well-being, its impact in the workplace and holistic methods for addressing it, listen to a recording of our webinar, “Healthcare's Quiet Emergency: The Impact of Employee Financial Well-Being on Health, Productivity and Your Bottom Line.”

Topics: Financial Well-Being Workplace Well-Being

What Happens When an Organization Creates a Culture of Well-Being?

Madison Agee

To truly maximize the potential benefits of a well-being improvement program, organizations would be well-served to take a close look at their corporate cultures, asking themselves probing questions such as:

  • Do our underlying attitudes and assumptions reflect a true commitment to well-being?
  • Are we actively supporting our employees’ well-being?
  • Have our leaders fully bought into the business case for improved well-being?
  • Are we properly encouraging and rewarding well-being behaviors?

The answers to these questions can help determine whether the organizational culture is supporting or inhibiting the eventual success of the well-being improvement program. Without a true well-being culture, organizations may never see the types of measurable results they’re expecting for their investment. On the other hand, organizations that purposefully set out to create, implement and sustain a culture of well-being have a much better chance of realizing outcomes such as reduced healthcare costs, improved on-the-job productivity and lower rates of absenteeism.

Over the last several years, Healthways has focused on creating an environment that recognizes and fosters well-being for its colleagues. We’ve done this in conjunction with a well-rounded well-being improvement effort, which includes programs and policies designed to address all elements of well-being — purpose, social, financial, community and physical. As a result, our colleagues enjoy what they do, are motivated to achieve their goals, and cultivate the supportive relationships and good health they need for optimal performance.

With this twin focus on culture and programs, we’ve achieved some remarkable success — for example, we improved overall well-being among our colleagues by 16.3 percent in five years — and we’re looking forward to sharing many of these outcomes with you in the near future. But one exciting result of our efforts is the external recognition and acclaim we received in 2014 alone.

For example, Healthways received the 2014 Gallup Great Workplace Award, which is given to organizations that understand that employee engagement drives real business outcomes. Award recipients have mastered how to engage their workforces and have demonstrated a quantifiable impact as a result of having a more engaged workforce. In fact, Healthways is currently trumping the U.S. average of less than two engaged workers for every actively disengaged worker, with ten engaged associates for every actively disengaged associate.

Here’s a sampling of some other recognition Healthways received last year:

  • 2014 National Business Group on Health (NBGH) Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles Awards. NBGH recognizes the best workplace well-being programs for employees and their families in the United States and globally. This is the sixth consecutive year that we’ve been recognized by NBGH for our employee well-being improvement initiatives.
  • Healthiest Employers’ 2014 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America. Honorees “have moved beyond healthy living sound bites to the development of a practical, effective and continuously improving framework for creating a sustainably healthy workplace.”
  • American Heart Association’s Fit-Friendly Worksite Gold Achievement. Criteria include offering employees physical activity support, increasing healthy dietary options and generally promoting a wellness culture, with at least one documented behavior change, cost savings outcome or positive return on investment.
  • Nashville Business Journal Best Places to Work 2014. This recognition measures key engagement categories including team effectiveness, trust in senior leaders, and managerial effectiveness.
  • 2014 Boston Globe Top Places to Work. More than 73,000 Boston-area employees completed surveys rating their employers according to factors including direction of the company, employee engagement, execution of ideas, management support, and pay and benefits. Healthways’ MeYou Health, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, ranked number one in the top small employer category for 2014.
  • 2014 Coolest Nashville Companies to Work For. Healthways was selected by HR consulting company O.C. Tanner as one of the ten coolest companies to work for in Nashville for its culture that inspires colleagues to live their best lives every day.
  • Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s 2014 Healthy Workplace Challenge. The Healthy Workplace Challenge encourages organizations to foster an environment that promotes a more active and healthy workplace while also encouraging local workplaces to strive to make Nashville a healthier city. Healthways received Platinum-level recognition for promoting physical activity; offering healthy foods and beverages; encouraging active transportation; providing lactation support; and leading a tobacco-free workplace.
  • Tennessee Governor’s Volunteer Star’s Middle Tennessee Business Honoree. This award identifies outstanding volunteers from each of Tennessee’s 95 counties, reflecting our commitment to engage and improve the communities in which our colleagues are based.

If you’re interested in creating a culture of well-being within your own organization and maximizing your potential for external recognition, we’ve put together some questions you can use to help establish how mature your well-being culture currently is. These questions also provide some guidance to help you develop an action plan for taking it to where you want it to be.

The Top 10 Well-Being Moments of 2014

Madison Agee

With 2014 behind us, there's no better time to reflect on last year's top well-being moments. Editors at Gallup have compiled ten of the more important insights from the Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index™. Ranging from issues like the rate of uninsured Americans to how older people feel about their physical appearance, these findings provide an interesting look into well-being in the United States.