In brief

In brief

  • Workplace financial wellness programs are not well. Roughly 80% of employers offer them.1 Less than one-third of employees participate.2
  • Employees report spending approximately 150 work hours annually—almost four weeks of work time—worrying about money.3
  • Financial firms who offer such programs and want to capitalize on this opportunity with holistic offerings may corner a market that has no clear owner.


Workplace financial wellness programs have not been well—with limited employee uptake and low sustained usage. The Rx? Well-designed, holistic, scalable programs that combine the best of design thinking and digital technology.

A recent study shows a company with 50,000 employees can save from $33 million to $49 million annually by increasing the financial wellness score of its workforce by just one point (on a 10-point scale). Two points reaps $65 million to $97 million in savings.4

Conversely, employers who don’t tackle the issue could risk up to $250 billion in lost wages due to employees’ stress about their personal finances.5 Employees report spending approximately 150 work hours annually—almost four weeks of work time—worrying about money.3

Financial services firms who can capitalize on this growing opportunity with well-designed, holistic offerings may corner a multi-billion-dollar market that has no clear owner.

The road to a well-designed, modern offering

Financial services firms need to move quickly, but not at the cost of strategy. A well-designed, modern offering will ultimately move employees from financial literacy to financial empowerment—giving them the tools, information and customer experiences that create sustained behavior change in their financial lives.

Design from the employee’s perspective. Holistic offerings created with design thinking are de rigueur for the real competitors in this market. It’s not enough to address piecemeal aspects with solo programs like retirement saving and budgeting. A holistic approach helps employees organize their financial “junk drawer,” drawing connections between various elements of financial health—from preparing a will, to saving for a home, to managing credit card debt (and everything in between). Good design thinking involves demystifying financial wellness, rather than causing analysis paralysis due to a bevy of untailored information.

Using design thinking helps companies frame up employee financial wellness programs designed with users for users—which increases the chance of uptake and sustained usage.

Personalize with digital technologies. Digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics are the only route to the level of personalization employees expect, at the scale and competitive pricing companies desire. They can help differentiate between types and categories of employees. Companies’ programs can and should personalize for life events and stages. And today’s technologies take it to the next level: hyper-relevance. Using data-fueled predictive analytics, companies can offer individual employees a financial wellness customer experience tailored for their needs—hitting the right touchpoints at the times most likely to foster uptake and action.

Create a category-breaking customer experience. Simply creating a digital platform with reams of content will not move the needle. Using the principles of behavioral finance, companies need to cover every element of finances in a holistic way, but offer information in logically sequenced, digestible chunks—given that employees want to focus on the “next best thing” to do. To get to that goal, firms will need to offer a seamless, consistent, tailored customer experience across all channels—from advisors, to website, to call center. Employing a host of techniques and options—from gamification to self-service, responsive feedback options to data-fueled personalization—firms will need to consumerize employee financial wellness so they perform on par with what employees expect based on their financial experiences outside of work.

Simply creating a digital platform with reams of content will not move the needle.

Making your move

To enter this market in earnest, firms will need to move quickly to take advantage of a limited window of opportunity. A few things to keep in mind as you begin to move forward:

Play to your legacy strength.

Most firms are not starting from scratch, so begin with your best suit. Your jumping-off point should already be an area of strength, from advice to inexpensive distribution.

Ecosystems add richness, when done right.

Non-traditional partnerships and competitors are increasing in this space. Many of the newer programs emphasize bite-sized steps to increase the chances of lasting behavioral change in employees.

Work with a trusted partner.

The employee financial wellness market is changing quickly. Work with a partner with experience developing and implementing market strategies in this space. It can leapfrog you ahead of competitors.

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Robert Sollmann

Director – Insurance

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