For The Boldt Co., the addition of a financial expert to its quarterly lunch-and-learn session run by the company's on-site nurse felt like the perfect combination. The nurse had long provided tips and guidance on health and fitness, but many employees were beginning to ask for help with financial matters, said Michelle Gawinski, the Appleton, Wis.-based company's treasurer and executive vice president.
"We thought it would be a good time to add financial wellness to it," she said.
The combined lunch-and-learn session — called the Food, Physical and Financial Fitness program — launched as a pilot in 2016 and has since earned wide employee support. The session, which is broadcast to employees companywide, typically opens with the nurse providing a healthy recipe or health advice followed by a financial adviser who talks about financial topics ranging from budgeting to raising financially savvy kids.
In addition to a more robust lunch-and-learn, the construction and real estate development company also in 2016 began providing employees with access to financial advisers. Employees can meet individually with the advisers for 30- to 45-minute one-on-one sessions throughout the year to make sure that they're selecting the right investments for their 401(k) accounts and to discuss other financial topics outside of retirement, such as student loans and long-term care, according to Ms. Gawinski.
"They can help them realign their 401(k) into the appropriate funds and help them go in and change their deferral rates," Ms. Gawinski said. "We want to make sure that … they're saving in the appropriate type of funds and at the appropriate rate to be able to retire and have sufficient funds in their retirement account."
Unlike other companies, which typically charge the cost of providing advisers to their retirement plans, Boldt opted to pay for the service. Ms. Gawinski declined to disclose how much the company paid, saying only that it's a company-sponsored benefit.
Despite the cost, Boldt's management wasn't looking for a business case or an analysis of how the new service for employees would boost the company's return on investment, Ms. Gawinski said. "Our management team is very concerned about making sure employees are healthy in all ways," she said, adding that the CEO, Tom Boldt, encouraged adding financial wellness to the program.
"He is very in favor of employees doing well," she said. "Employees are first."
The financial wellness initiative has helped employees better leverage the company's retirement plan, according to metrics Boldt tracks.
Average savings rates jumped to 9% of pay from 7.6% in 2016 when the program started. Roth utilization also improved, with 40% of participants saving in the Roth 401(k), up from 34%.
The financial advisers have proved popular as have the financial topics covered during the quarterly lunch-and-learn sessions. Twenty-five percent of employees met one-on-one with a financial adviser last year, up from just 7% in 2016.
"All feedback has been positive," Mr. Gawinski said of the financial advisers. "I continually get people calling me in and saying, 'Where can I get their phone number? How do I access them?' "