Personal Finance Training Enhances Worker Satisfaction

Everyone has moments when an off-the-clock problem disrupts our concentration at work. Let’s face it. It’s hard to focus on the job at hand if you’re worried about a financial situation at home. Not only can this type of distraction cause a drop in productivity, it can be dangerous when working with heavy fabrication equipment. To promote basic financial education and peace of mind in our employees, we have established a formal program to help team members deal with everyday financial situations.

An Informed Workforce
Our human resources department works with a professional financial advisor who comes to our location monthly to speak with our employees during lunch. After speaking on a general financial topic, one-on-one meetings can be requested to help individual workers with their specific financial situation.

The program has two objectives. The first is to provide employees a high-level education about the mechanics of credit, budgeting, personal finance and loans. The second is to supply advice on how to establish good money-handling habits that will allow them to achieve specific goals in the future.

Breaking a History of Debt
The reality is, there are predators out there who are more than willing to take advantage of someone who has not learned the finer points of finance. (That’s most of us). When you need cash now and don’t truly understand the consequences of taking a loan, practices like payday loans and car title loans can seem to be the answer. It isn’t until later that the reality of sky-high interest rates kick in and the individual is left with considerably more debt than ever imagined. That can lead to other “fast fix” solutions that simply compound the problem. “We have even lost good employees who have left to keep a step ahead of bill collectors,” HR Manager Kim Wimer said.

Gaining Financial Control
Our financial advisor usually starts with the basics of creating a budget and tips for sticking with it. This advice is not based on hypothetical case studies. This is done face-to-face, working with one individual’s real-life numbers. The program is tailor-made to solve problems like: how to pay down the balance on a credit card, re-financing medical expenses, paying down student loans, salvaging a bad credit rating and building a good one. The recovery begins with the realization that there are no quick fixes. Some of these problems can take years to resolve. That is why part of the instruction is how to establish spending discipline by curbing impulse buying and delaying gratification.

Building for the Future
How many of us have ever bought a new car and came away with the vague feeling that we’ve been ripped off? The paperwork is often too complicated for us to figure out the best options. Our financial advisor helps employees level the playing field. The second part of our financial empowerment program deals with the right and wrong way to approach purchases and how to make your money work for you to achieve long-term goals. Along with best practices for buying a car, grace periods on bills, reading a credit report, owning a home and saving for college are very popular topics. Tips from these talks have been put into practice by every level in the company from new-hires to upper management.

About Paperwork
We’ve all gotten that sinking feeling when faced with a stack of forms that stand between us and our goal. We don’t just give advice and leave it at that. We pitch in with the homework, too. Our financial advisor helps employees fill out financial forms, while Kim sits down with them for short-term disability, accident claims and other documents. “We don’t want our people leaving money on the table because they are intimidated by paperwork,” she said.

Kim summarized the results of the program like this, “Yes, we run a business. And helping employees with financial problems keeps them focused on the job and aids productivity. But we are also a big family and taking care of each other is just what we do.”