The Value Of Financial Wellness: A Q&A With HealthKick’s Founder, Erika Zauner

Allwork.Space spoke to Erika Zauner, founder of HealthKick, to understand how organizations can provide financial support for their employees, and why they should.
  • Two out of three employees are feeling more stressed than before the pandemic; much of this anxiety comes from financial concerns.
  • Companies are realizing the importance of financial wellness on their employees’ lives, and are working to offer support through corporate wellness programs.
  • Allwork.Space spoke to Erika Zauner, founder of HealthKick, a corporate wellness program, to understand why financial wellbeing should be a priority and how organizations can better support their employees.

The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted the wellbeing of workers around the world. Various studies have shown that workers are facing more stress than ever before

The increase in stress levels has been attributed to a variety of factors:

  • Anxiety over the virus
  • Working from home
  • Increased workloads
  • Fear over losing one’s job
  • Financial stress. 

Finances have been identified as one of the biggest stressors during the pandemic. Erika Zauner, Founder of HealthKick, a corporate wellness program that offers customizable mental, physical, and financial wellness programs for companies, believes that now more than ever, organizations need to support employees and help them manage their finances and their overall wellbeing. 

Now is the right time for companies to implement new programs and make resources readily available in order to better support employees and prevent burnout. 

Allwork.Space spoke with Zauner to learn more about how employee needs have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, how organizations can better support employees, and why financial wellbeing should be a priority. 

Below are the highlights of our conversation. 

Allwork.Space: How have employee needs changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Erika Zauner: Many people are working from home right now and it can be very difficult to separate work life from personal life. The majority of employees have also been working longer hours throughout the pandemic, taking away from the free time they could have used for exercising, spending time with family and friends, learning new skills, or simply relaxing. 

These longer hours can lead to burnout and induce stress-related anxiety or depression, which can be difficult to manage without access to appropriate resources. Two out of three employees are feeling more stressed than before the pandemic and 69% of employees are experiencing work from home burnout symptoms, which can impact productivity and the ability to focus.

Because of this, employees need different types of support from their employers. 

Prior to the pandemic, many corporate benefits included discounted gym memberships, free lunch at the office, or in-person events. Now that most employees are home – and often unable to achieve a healthy work-life balance – they need resources and tools that will help them maintain a better balance that supports their mental health and enables them to create better habits. 

Before, this used to be a “nice to have,” but now it has turned into a necessity. A strong culture has been important to employees and job candidates for a long time, and part of building a strong culture involves creating a workplace that is transparent and supportive. By adapting to the remote work model and providing resources that employees can benefit from while at home – including access to virtual fitness classes, financial and mental wellness support, healthy food options that can be delivered at home, etc. – companies can show their employees that they appreciate them and in turn support their productivity and job satisfaction.

Allwork.Space: You mention that finances is one of the main stressors workers are currently dealing with. What are the implications of this for organizations?

Since the pandemic started, employees have had new and significant stressors added to their lives – fear for their health and safety, balancing parenting and homeschooling with work, and potential financial strains. 

COVID-19 has pushed many companies to lay off staff and displace workers; many two-income households have now become single-earner homes, putting more of a strain on those who are not working and causing them to rethink how they are spending discretionary income (if they still have it). 

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This has changed how people are spending their money and balancing savings with new circumstances that people may not have been accustomed to earlier. 

By providing financial wellness support to employees, companies’ corporate wellness programs can add major value. 

For example, HealthKick works with budgeting apps Mint and Pocketguard, which many of our clients’ employees have been leveraging throughout the pandemic. This helps them figure out how they can afford some of the benefits they were previously provided on their own and learn to navigate new financial situations. 

A year ago, corporate wellness focused almost entirely on physical fitness, but as times have changed, so have these programs. Companies have started to realize the importance and impact corporate wellness and its resources can have on all aspects of employees’ lives. 

At HealthKick, we have seen an increase in requests from HR leaders for resources around supporting financial wellbeing and providing wellness options that are accessible from home. Many companies are also sponsoring workshops on how to manage finances in turbulent times, and providing stipends to employees to use toward purchases like groceries, meals, childcare, and office equipment to provide financial support to employees.

Allwork.Space: I think it’s great that companies are adapting their benefits programs to meet the current needs of employees. However, for many organizations and managers one concern they tend to have about perks and benefits is cost. How can companies save on costs while offering better benefits to employees?

Companies should evaluate the needs of their employees and, from there, find a program that caters to their needs. By partnering with one company for all of their wellness benefits, companies can see a major savings as compared to setting up individual partnerships with various studios, restaurants, or other services, while saving employees over $260-500 per year on wellness purchases. 

Allwork.Space: You’ve already shared some ways companies have shifted their benefits to better support employees as they work from home, like absorbing some of the cost of office equipment and providing a stipend for food. Are there any additional things companies could be doing?

With office spaces now largely off-limits, and group gatherings kept at a minimum due to social distancing guidelines, typical office perks like happy hours, catered office meals or group outings are no longer acceptable. 

Corporate wellness and fitness programs have become vital to today’s workforce and serve as a great alternative to traditional office perks. Companies are utilizing these programs to allow users to continue to build a sense of community and participate in challenges and activities with their colleagues and friends. Some companies are also offering other rewards to their teams – whether it is hosting a Zoom yoga class or a virtual get-together.

It’s essential that employers provide their employees with reliable resources to help build their health and wellness goals. Prioritizing employees’ wellness will also go a long way to show them they are appreciated, especially during a time when many extra hours are being logged. That’s why corporate wellness has become so popular and I predict will continue to grow in popularity as employers look to provide perks that address wellbeing.

Allwork.Space: Thanks Erika. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It’s important that employers meet their employees where they are and provide the resources that they need the most now; that might be a guided meditation, a nourishing meal, or a yoga class. There are many digital and online resources that make this possible. The right resources can help employees stay on track with their health and wellness goals, but, more importantly, they can bring ease and convenience to healthy living by supporting employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.

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