With the stock market gyrating and the economy uncertain, there's one low-cost move you can make that'll pay big dividends: offering your employees financial counseling. Studies have shown that providing such help will increase workers' feelings of company loyalty and improve retention rates. It should boost productivity, too; when employees are worrying about their savings accounts, they're not focused on work.Workers' interest in financial planning help grew in the past year as the economy deteriorated, says Peter Burki, CEO of work/life benefits provider LifeCare Inc. In fall 2008, LifeCare's call center fielded quadruple the inquiries about financial help from 2007. "We're seeing an amazing need out there," Burki says.
You can offer financial counseling through online courses, group seminars on basic financial topics held at the office, or individual appointments with certified financial planners. Assistance could be part of a comprehensive work/life benefits program or offered as a stand-alone service. It doesn't have to be expensive; Burki estimates that a comprehensive financial services education program should cost less than $5 per employee per year to implement.
If you decide to offer financial education to your workers, be sure to protect yourself from liability. Hire a thoroughly vetted professional to present the information, and be sure employees sign a waiver indicating they understand that the advice is for general purposes and all financial decisions are ultimately their own responsibility.