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How Employers Can Support Employee Financial Wellness

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The role of HR professionals and business officials in school districts is pivotal. Beyond managing budgets and policies, there’s a profound responsibility to support the well-being of the staff who shape the minds of future generations. Fostering financial wellness is not just beneficial but essential for creating an environment where educators, staff, and students can thrive. 

Unique Financial Challenges Faced by Education Sector Employees 

Employees within K-12 school districts face a set of financial challenges distinct from those in other sectors. Educators and support staff must navigate long-term financial planning with pensions and retirement benefits that are increasingly complex and uncertain. Summer breaks pose another challenge, as many employees must budget carefully to manage months without income or seek summer employment to fill the gap. These unique pressures underscore the necessity for targeted financial wellness programs tailored to the education sector’s specific needs. 

“I am the last step in the interview process as they are filling out all their onboarding paperwork. You can see on some of their faces when they realize that they are only going to get paid once a month that this is not going to work for them, and they decide right then and there that they are not going to move forward.” 

– Dr. Sharra Smith, Executive Director of Personnel – Bellevue Public Schools  

Why Financial Wellness Matters to School District Operations 

The implementation of financial wellness programs in K-12 school districts has a direct correlation with operational success. Financially secure employees are more focused, engaged, and satisfied with their work, leading to improved performance in the classroom and beyond. This, in turn, contributes to a positive school culture and environment conducive to learning and growth. 

Moreover, financial wellness programs can be a significant factor in attracting and retaining top talent. In an increasingly competitive educational landscape, the ability to offer comprehensive support for employees’ financial well-being can set a district apart. This is particularly important in areas facing teacher shortages or where competition for qualified staff is high. 

Financial wellness initiatives also have the potential to reduce costs associated with turnover, recruitment, and training by increasing employee retention rates. Long-term, the stability and continuity provided by a committed and financially secure workforce can lead to operational efficiencies and enhanced educational outcomes. 

In essence, by investing in the financial wellness of their employees, K-12 school districts are not only supporting their staff but are also investing in the future success of their operations and the students they serve. This holistic approach to employee well-being reflects a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of financial stability, job satisfaction, and educational excellence. 

Case Studies: Successful Financial Wellness Programs in Schools 

Across the nation, innovative K-12 school districts have begun to recognize and address these challenges through comprehensive financial wellness programs.  

Bellevue Public Schools, situated in the suburban area of Omaha, Nebraska, serves approximately 9,500 students with a dedicated staff of around 1,500 teachers and personnel. The district, under the leadership of Dr. Sharra Smith, Executive Director of Personnel, has been proactive in addressing the unique financial challenges faced by its workforce. Recognizing the difficulty in attracting qualified professionals and filling both classified and certified positions, Bellevue Public Schools has introduced a pioneering financial wellness solution aimed at removing barriers to employment within the education sector. 

In partnership with Frontline Flex Pay, powered by Wagestream, Bellevue Public Schools launched a holistic financial wellbeing solution that allows all employees, both classified and certified, to access their earned wages ahead of the traditional payday, without any fees for transfers within 1 to 3 business days. This innovative program was designed to alleviate the financial stress associated with the district’s once-a-month payroll schedule, which had been a significant deterrent for potential employees. Dr. Smith noted the tangible relief on the faces of new hires upon learning that they could access their earned wages without waiting for the end-of-month payday. 

The implementation of Frontline Flex Pay, powered by Wagestream was seamless, requiring minimal additional work from Bellevue’s small but efficient personnel and payroll teams. The service was fully operational within a month, demonstrating the district’s commitment to swift and effective solutions to support its employees’ financial wellbeing. 

The response from Bellevue’s staff has been overwhelmingly positive, with approximately ten percent of the workforce signing up within the first few months of the program’s launch. The ease of use, both for payroll staff and employees, has been a highlight of the program, allowing users to manage their finances more effectively and providing a sense of security and control over their financial situations. 

Dr. Smith’s observations revealed that the benefits of Frontline Flex Pay were not limited to classified staff. A significant number of certified, salaried professionals also took advantage of the program as well. This unexpected outcome highlighted the broad appeal and utility of financial wellness initiatives, underscoring the importance of such programs in supporting the diverse needs of school district employees. 

Bellevue Public Schools’ successful implementation of Frontline Flex Pay, powered by Wagestream serves as a compelling case study in financial wellness, demonstrating how innovative solutions can enhance employee satisfaction, ease financial burdens, and make school districts more attractive to current and prospective employees. This initiative reflects the district’s broader commitment to the wellbeing of its staff, contributing positively to its overall recruitment and retention strategy. You can read their entire case study here.

What to learn more?

Frontline Education offers a Free financial wellness program for K-12 Districts called Frontline Flex Pay. Learn more here.