Meredith's Financial Wellness Initiative
"The primary goal of Meredith's wellness initiative is to help our employees enjoy a long and healthy life, right now and during retirement," said Meredith President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Lacy. "
we expanded our wellness program beyond health-related initiatives to include financial wellness. By providing employees financial information, resources and tools, we hope they are financially fit, in addition to being physically fit, at retirement.
Meredith's Financial Wellness program provides employees with tools, knowledge, and skills needed to enhance their financial health and more fully utilize company sponsored benefit programs. Meredith is committed to improving our level of employee health and financial well-being, with the primary goal to help employees and their families enjoy a long and healthy life, now and during retirement. The program includes a broad range of worksite and online financial education workshops, personalized one-on-one financial planning sessions and an annual Personal Financial Wellness Checkup. These programs enable employees to improve monthly cash flow, save for long-term goals, manage financial risk more effectively and help them invest wisely.
Selecting best-in-class providers and achieving a high level of employee engagement are critical to our success. We strive to select relevant and timely content for our interventions and offer support in areas of greatest need and interest to employees. Through a comprehensive strategy, we aim to reduce the level of financial distress among our workforce, which correlates to lower levels of stress-related illness, excess medical costs and diminished productivity. Participants also learn skills to improve cash flow and eliminate living paycheck-to-paycheck by developing a comprehensive financial plan. We strive to help employees improve their rate of savings, reduce debt, and gain a greater understanding of employee benefits.
The foundation of the Meredith financial wellness initiative is the Personal Financial Wellness (PFW) Checkup, designed for Meredith by the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation (PFEEF). Employees earn Wellness Points toward an insurance premiums discount by completing the 20-minute questionnaire (online and hard copy versions available) and over 70% of employees participate. The PFW Checkup benchmarks cash flow stress, rate of savings, level of understanding of employee benefits and overall level of financial well-being. Participants receive a personalized report with a Financial Wellness Score (1 = Significant Financial Distress to 10 = No Financial Distress) and a customized action plan based on their responses and programming provided by Meredith.
Responses to the PFW Checkup are aggregated into an annual report from PFEEF, which identifies areas of strength and opportunities for improvement across our workforce. Based on results, we develop a year-round calendar of initiatives to address areas of greatest need and interest among employees. Employee financial wellness committees at each location collaborate with the Health and Financial Wellness Program Manager to offer site-based initiatives. PFEEF is conducting a peer-reviewed research study on the impact of Meredith's program and levels of employee financial well-being.
Meredith offers onsite and online workshops in two categories; the Foundation Series consists of courses offered by The EDSA Group including Money Basics (6 hours, typically four 90-minute workshops), The Magic of 401(k) (2 hours) and Retiring Easy (3 hours). The Spotlight Series consists of 10 60-minute courses from Money Management International that focus on reducing debt, improving credit, building savings and avoiding fraud. Courses are offered during the workday and after hours to accommodate a variety of employee and family schedules. All workshops are available on the Internet and compatible with mobile devices so employees can also participate at home and on the go.
Meredith administers the financial wellness program through a convenient and secure online portal. After completing a course employees receive between $10 and $50 Wellness "Bucks" (depending on the course) that can be used for reimbursement on purchases such as tennis shoes, athletic apparel, fitness equipment, therapeutic massage and additional financial counseling. Employees completing one or more courses are also offered an annual one-on-one session with the instructor to clarify what they have learned as it pertains to their specific financial situation.
Meredith provides a variety of online resources such as mortgage calculators, savings and debt reduction tools, a financial wellness newsletter and information on employee benefit programs including Meredith's $500 lifetime benefit for employees to participate in external financial planning sessions with an advisor. Meredith also reinforces the financial wellness message through annual total compensation statements and detailed pension statements, which are used by participants for financial planning.
All company-sponsored programs are available at no cost to employees and their spouse or significant other.
Results from the Meredith Financial Wellness initiative are measured on three levels: (1) engagement/program satisfaction, (2) behavior change and (3) additional financial measures (such as increases in 401k and employee stock purchase plan contributions).
Data is collected from participant surveys at the conclusion of each workshop, during quarterly employee financial wellness committee meetings, from actual plan participation numbers and through results from the PFW annual report. After the first full year of financial wellness programming, results include:
PFW Aggregate Results
- 71.4% of employees completed the Personal Financial Wellness Checkup
- 35.0% of employees participated in one or more financial wellness workshops
- 23.7% of employees that completed a workshop participated in a one-on-one planning session
- Average Financial Wellness Score (1-10) improved from 6.0 in 2010 to 6.6 in 2011
- Participants with high financial distress was reduced from 21.9% in 2010 to 12.9% in 2011
- Participants with high cash flow stress was reduced from 40.9% in 2010 to 31.5% in 2011
- Participants with a low savings rate was reduced from 48.2% in 2010 to 39.7% in 2011
- Understanding (moderate or high) of employee benefits improved from 72.6% in 2010 to 80.0% in 2011
- Participation in the Meredith 401(k) program improved from 84.6% in 2010 to 94.6% in 2011
- Average deferrals increased across all Meredith locations, improving from 5.7% in 2010 to 6.5% in 2011 companywide
- Average 401(k) balances improved across all Meredith locations, increasing from $58,900 in 2010 to $67,640 in 2011 companywide
"Everyone should take at least one of these classes and the YOUNGER the BETTER A REAL EYE OPENER! Thanks for offering." (New York participant)
"I took the Money Concepts class last week and honestly I was dreading sitting through an hour and a half lecture. I also had a cold and sat by the door prepared to walk out. BOY WAS I WRONG about this class. The time flew by
in fact we felt that we needed more time. I personally learned SOOOOO much from this class and will definitely come prepared to my new class today. Keep them coming!!!"
(New York participant)
"I wanted to let you know that the material presented is the best I have ever seen for these types of courses. The instructor does great job of explaining things and keeps the class moving at the right pace. When I worked at [another company,] I attended workshops like these and the courses offered at Meredith are much better." (Des Moines participant)