Holistic wellness includes a panoramic view of the human experience. It includes physical health, mental wellness, personal development as well as financial well-being. Wellness is about making smart lifestyle choices that can have a huge impact on our collective lives. A healthier individual is a happier individual and a happier individual is good for everyone.

While diet, exercise and educational opportunities are all characteristics of wellness, the financial aspect of wellness is all too often ignored. Financial stress affects health, reduces productivity and creates family issues & marital strain.

“Arguments about money is by far the top predictor of divorce,” said Sonya Britt, assistant professor of family studies and human services and program director of personal financial planning. “It’s not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It’s money — for both men and women.

Many financial education programs seek to address these issues. Others focus simply on the concepts and key terms without connecting them to reality. Financial education that seeks to address the person as a whole and improve overall quality of life is taking a holistic approach.

Holistic financial education has key components, and looks to serve individuals and the needs that are unique to them. People are living differently, they spend and save differently and manage risk differently. An education that is individualized is providing resources to help build towards personal goals.

Financial anxiety has a devastating effect on a person’s emotional outlook, physical health, and workplace productivity. Instead of feeling whole, they feel broken. Anxious, worried, helpless, hopeless are only a few of the words people frequently use to describe their financial situations.

In a recent survey of workers, more than 60% of them have less than $500 in savings, and live month-to-month without much financial cushion in the event of an emergency. About half of them feel that they have a limited understanding of personal financial management.

Even in the most upbeat company cultures, workers are still stressed out about their personal finances at home. In the face of these challenges, many employers are trying to help their workers eliminate financial anxiety by offering a new benefit: holistic financial wellness plans. These money management programs go far beyond penny pinching. They address a person’s financial picture from the standpoint of total wellness.

Over a quarter of these worker have given up on the dream of ever retiring. That’s especially true of millennials, who are graduating from college with more than $37,000 in student loan debt. They now face decades of playing catch-up.

Holistic financial wellness programs are based on important questions about human behavior and employees’ individual situations, like:

  • What is your current financial status?
  • Do you have the data you need to understand your situation?
  • Which emotions are driving your decisions?
  • How high is your level of stress?
  • What are the root causes of the problems you face?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • What would make you feel motivated to make financial changes?
  • What do you need to move forward from here?

Only when the questions above are fully addressed can a person take positive steps toward financial improvement. Employers can help their employees take the first step with a workplace-sponsored, employee financial wellness program.

For an employer, these programs are also a holistic solution for the business itself. They address deeper day-to-day workplace issues like motivation, concentration, and productivity. When employees can’t focus on work due to financial strain, employers pay the price.

In fact, anxiety is the source of $300 billion a year in U.S. employer costs. Depression and anxiety force people to seek expensive healthcare solutions. Financial frustration causes them to seek out higher-paying employers, leaving their previous employers with the costs of rehiring.

It’s a vicious cycle – one that eats companies alive. Low productivity and high employee turnover are characteristics of a company struggling to survive. After all, each lost employee costs at least $15,000 in reduced productivity, missed opportunity, and the time it takes to hire someone else.

Companies don’t have to struggle because their employees are buried in financial chaos. Holistic wellness programs flip the script. Rather than assuming employees’ financial problems are unsolvable – or not the problem of the company – these programs tackle financial wellness head-on.

For an employer, a holistic program limits the risks they face with the workforce: healthcare, turnover, violence, and injury. It turns these issues around into success-focused traits: health, loyalty, camaraderie, and productivity.