Benevate Blog

JUN 2016
Remember Financial Wellness also
By Bill Hatton, CRO Magazine

Jason Rusnak was recently interviewed by CRO Magazine for his insights on financial wellness programs. View the original article here.

Money is the leading cause of stress, according to a recent American Psychological Association report, "Stress in America: Paying with Our Health." Nearly two-thirds of adults surveyed identified money as the leading cause of significant stress in their lives.

Lower-income workers were twice as likely to say that money problems contribute to less-healthy lifestyles, particularly sedentary behavior such as web surfing and television watching.

Jason Rusnak is co-founder and president of Benevate, Inc., an Atlanta-based startup. Benevate ("Benefits Elevated") says wellness programs that assist employees with finance can provide real benefits, both to workers' health and to the bottom line. Benevate provides employee benefits programs, including down-payment assistance, student loan assistance, mortgage assistance, and college savings assistance.

"The financial wellness piece needs to start being considered as part of an overall health and wellness program, especially with the stress that exists because of the amount of debt that's out there," Rusnak says.

Millenials, in particular, are often saddled with heavy student loans. Because of that, Millenials often struggle to save for home down payments. Employees of any age often struggle with mortgage payments and saving for children's college education.

"Younger employees don't contribute that much to their 401(k)," says Rusnak. "If they don't have children, they're really not caring about dependent care or parental leave policy. If they're not married, they're probably not going to apply for life insurance or disability insurance. And they're typically healthy when they're younger, so they're probably not going to be using their medical plans or their dental plans as well. So what benefits are out there that they can take advantage of? A couple of my partners and I just said there's got to be new, unique benefits that can really attract and retain this group of employees."

Similar programs get results. While health wellness and community well-being programs do a lot of good, and are intrinsically valuable, financial wellness has measurable results. For example, the City of Savannah, GA halved its turnover rate for employees that participated in a forgivable loan program. Amonth participants, the retention rate is 93 percent.

"Benefits leaders rarely talk about rate of return," Rusnak says. "We can build a business case upfront. We know that the cost-to-hire is significant. And there's the lost productivity of an employee thinking about their finances, their student loans, or the fact they are living in their parents' basement."