Workplace wellness programs have become a common feature of Hawaiʻi workplaces. And now the concept is expanding to help employees with aspects of their lives that go beyond physical health.
A survey of employers conducted by the Hawaiʻi Employers Council finds that about two-thirds offer a workplace wellness program. These are as varied as the companies that have them and range from informal walking groups and healthier snacks in the break room to more comprehensive help for employees dealing with health issues as chronic disease or aging parents.
The emerging new trend is financial wellness programs. About 13% of Hawaiʻi employers are offering these programs. It seems like a natural outgrowth of the conversations employers have already been having with their teams about 401(k)s. In these programs, employers are bringing in outside experts to teach employees more about understanding their credit report, budgeting, investing, and more.
As with wellness plans, these are tailored to the workforce. The Hale Koa Hotel, for example, found that many employees who never went to college now have children who are about to — but they had no firsthand experience of the application or financial aid process, so the hotel brought people who could walk them through this.
Financial wellness isn’t just about education. There’s a real cash benefit that’s just now emerging in Hawaiʻi companies and that’s student loan repayment. Much as an employer might match an employee’s contributions to their 401(k), in these plans employers match some of the employees’ debt repayment to help more quickly eliminate a source of outside stress.