Financial wellness means something different to everyone — and from a definition perspective, it should! There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to people - or their personalized financial plans. The same is true for financial wellness programs and advisor approaches.
To launch a successful financial wellness program, a systematic, strategic approach is necessary, to ensure this new program and its associated processes work for all parties involved within an organization’s existing infrastructure and operations. It may sound difficult, but by taking the time at the onset, you’re setting yourself and your program up for success in the future.
To paint a clear picture, we’ve segmented the following best practices into three phases.
Preparation & Planning
Preparation & Planning
When preparing your financial wellness program for launch, it’s important to understand your goals and offering scope along with the needs of your plan sponsors and their participants. Here’s a great way to start:
Articulate The Program
Do your best to proactively understand your plan sponsor’s communication style. Do they do in person all-hands meetings? Send mass emails? Do those emails come from HR? Do they use an internal messaging tool? All of these things will be important when planning the details of program roll out with your plan sponsor. Meeting people where they are is important, so try your best to make your roll out as simple as possible.
TIP: Using multiple communication strategies increases the chances that plan participants will receive and respond to your messages.
Once you have the information you need, create a clear, written description of your financial wellness program along with your expectations of the plan sponsor, and theirs of you. This way, everyone knows what to expect from whom at the beginning.
Mutually agreeing upon definitions of program success is key. All parties will then understand what they’re working toward and how to assess progress and iterate along the way.
Remember, success may vary between audiences. For example, HR might care about attracting and retaining talent and improving company culture, while finance is more ROI focused. Of course - pay close attention to participant success metrics as they are the key to any program.
Once you’ve agreed on success metrics, put feedback loops and reviews in place to ensure you’re tracking, reflecting, and evolving your program. It’s also important to note that the definition of success should change over time as you and your plan sponsors learn.
TIP: Measure what is meaningful, not just what is easy.
Confirm Points of Contact
Have a designated point of contact for plan participants at each of your plan sponsors. We recommend someone from HR be your point of contact. This way, communication is streamlined from that person directly to you or the appointed point of contact on your side of the business.
Since financial wellness programs like this are new to plan participants, it’s important to be as detailed and clear as possible when explaining its value. Whether that takes place orally or digitally (we recommend both written and in-person communications), participant success in financial wellness inextricably relies not only on their understanding of the program, but more importantly, their own financial goals and the impact that meeting those goals will have on their lives.
In-person kick off meetings followed by email follow ups are the most successful for program introduction and adoption. If your plan is too large for this to be feasible, or your plan sponsor does not conduct in-person team meetings, consult with their HR department. Ask what internal communication strategies they find to be most effective for their employees.
Invites and emails coming from HR before program launch are impactful. Ask your plan sponsor about their email policies ahead of time. Assure them that all program communication is strategic and important for plan participant progress.
During kick off, set plan participant expectations that emails with action-oriented, educational content may be sent at various points during the year.
Our research shows that incentives can have mixed results. Large or constant incentives can actually decrease people’s intrinsic motivation to engage in desired behaviors, or imply that a desired behavior is difficult and burdensome. If you are going to offer incentives, make them small and random.
For example: enter plan participants who set up their account within 30 days into a random drawing for a $100 gift card. Or, have a drawing for participants who complete at least one To-Do within 30 days of kickoff.
Now that your program has launched, it’s time to engage plan participants on the road to their financial well-being. Similar to the above, the most important things here are communication and consistency. Having answers to questions like who will communicate what, how, and how often is vital. After all, you’re setting people up on a personalized life journey — automating their accountability is a key part of making program commitment easy, understandable, and possible.
So there you have it - best practices, tips, and tricks to set your financial wellness program up for success.
Interested in seeing what a customized financial wellness program could look like for you? Contact us for a complimentary consultation.