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Three Tips For Helping Your Employees Become Debt Free

Three Tips For Helping Your Employees Become Debt Free

Since the onset of the Great Recession, it seems that the topic of debt is on everyone’s mind, and your employees are probably no exception. From new hires Employee Engagement, Debt Free, Workplacestruggling with student loans to veteran workers buckling under mortgages and credit cards, debt is a reality that most people in your workplace are likely worrying about.

While the debt carried by employees may not seem like it should be the concern of managers and human resource professionals, the truth is that money troubles are a significant obstacle to worker productivity. Research has shown that employees dealing with debt are less healthy, less happy, and more distracted than those who aren’t. In fact, one study showed that debt-strapped workers spent an average of 20 office hours per month coping with the problem. What this means is that, although debt appears to be a personal issue, it has significant professional implications.

Fortunately, there are steps that workplace leaders can take to help employees reach debt freedom. Take a look at the tips below and consider implementing some of the suggestions in your office.

Tip #1: Create a culture of openness and respect 

Money is a taboo topic for a lot of people, so if employees are struggling with their finances, it may not be their first instinct to open up others about the problem. However, if you’ve already taken steps to create an open, comfortable environment in your workplace, it’s more likely that your staff will be honest with you about obstacles they’re facing to working to their full potential. When interacting with your employees, be sure to convey approachability, listen actively, and keep an up-beat attitude. This can help make them feel comfortable enough with you to disclose struggles they might be having with their money.

In the event that an employee does let you know that they’re have trouble with debt, be sure to hear her out, reassure her she’s not alone, and let her know that you will keep what she’s told you confidential. Then, work with her to create an action plan for keeping up with her assignments while she cleans up her financial problems; be sure that in doing so you point her to community resources that can help her deal with her debt.

Overall, it’s important that your employees see you as an ally on their path to debt freedom as opposed to another obstacle.

Tip #2: Offer personal finance workshops for your staff

One of the reasons that people end up in financial trouble in the first place is a lack of knowledge about even the most basic money concepts; after all, very few people take a personal finance class in school. One sure-fire way to help your employees achieve debt freedom is to offer some personal finance classes in the workplace. Setting up a series of workshops that cover topics like budgeting, saving, investing, and debt reduction will go a long way to towards helping your staff become more educated about managing their money.

If you don’t feel comfortable teaching the course yourself, ask one of the financial professionals in your office to consider the task. Or, do a quick Internet search for financial educators in your area.

Once you have a leader for the workshops, heavily advertise them to your employees, and set a good example by attending yourself. Also, it never hurts to sweeten the deal by offering incentives, like allowing staff members to leave work early attend or providing snacks or a meal at the workshops.

Tip #3: Start a debt free “club” for employees seeking support

Once it’s clear to your staff that you take their personal finances seriously, consider starting a club for employees looking for support on their path to debt freedom. A lot of people benefit from the accountability and sense of community that joining clubs provides, and the workplace is a convenient meeting ground for such a group.

If your staff enjoys games and friendly competition, another spin on this idea is creating a debt-reduction competition, similar to an office weight-loss competition. Employees could form teams or work individually, and offering a high-quality prize could serve as a good source of motivation for kicking debt-payoff into high gear. Just be sure that you structure the competition in such a way that employees are still being supportive and encouraging of each others’ financial goals.

Remember, employee debt is more than just a personal problem – use these tips to help your staff improve their financial health, and start looking forward to the benefits of a debt free workforce!

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Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a website that helps readers take control of their personal finances by learning about topics like the tax benefits of 529 plans.

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