Coping With The Challenge of COVID-19
By Makila Hennig, Program Manager, Financial Fitness for Life
Since March of 2020, COVID-19 is having a serious and constant impact on employees’ financial, emotional, and physical health. It is now reported that 88% of workers are experiencing moderate to extreme stress. For those employees who are experiencing COVID-related stress, 54% of their stress is caused by financial or money matters/challenges.
Even before the pandemic, the financial crisis affecting Americans is all too familiar—we may be experiencing it ourselves, or know others who are struggling financially, emotionally, and physically. Financial Fitness for Life’s mission is to improve the lives of employees by meeting them where they are, understanding their unique financial situation, and providing ongoing financial coaching to help them take the steps, big or small, that they are comfortable taking.
As a part of our financial wellness program, unlimited one-on-one meetings are offered to every client to ensure we are able to help employees make better financial decisions in their lives. We understand that offering a personalized, private meeting allows the employee to feel more comfortable sharing their financial concerns and struggles. In fact, 57% of Americans want to make their own financial decisions, but want a coach to be there to validate that decision.
How FF4L is Adapting to Meet the Challenge of COVID-19
It’s more important now than ever before that employees have access to a personalized financial coach to help them manage any financial concerns they may have.
Before COVID-19, our education program included one-on-one meetings that were held following our group meetings in the location we were visiting at the time. During the pandemic we took our educators off the road. It became a challenge to connect with individuals that may have felt less than comfortable discussing their personal situations with someone they have never met. But there was a silver lining: the time that we formerly spent on traveling to different locations around the United States is now available for us to help even more employees.
Our team was tasked with finding the best performing, most efficient technology platforms to host our one-on-one meetings. Through this discovery process, we also needed to figure out how to best communicate the meeting availability with the employees, as well as find a way to engage the employee to take advantage of and feel comfortable with this employer benefit.
As you can see, we were able to accomplish our goals using multiple technology systems. Our communication methods evolved from word-of-mouth, posting flyers around the office, and sending static emails, to utilizing email software systems to incorporate videos and QR codes. Our one-on-one meetings were now being scheduled through Calendly, which allowed the employee to schedule a time that is most convenient for them. With video conferencing, we are still able to see the employee face-to-face and providing them with a trusted coach they can reach out to at any time.
By adapting and implementing a different approach, we were able to reach more employees than ever before. We found that not only did more employees register for our monthly FIT4Learning Seminars (11.4%), attendance increased by 78%.
Even more encouraging evidence that the new approach was effective was the increase in one-on-one meetings. There was a 76.9% increase in individual sign-ups following group meetings and a 29.9% increase in organic one-on-one meetings.
Sometimes change is forced upon us by circumstance and not by choice. But at a time when so many employees are faced with multiple stressors, we are finding personal and professional satisfaction in helping more employees than ever before cope better with and reduce the burden of financial stress.
Let’s change the face of retirement together.