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Implement effective financial education in the workplace

We provide information to help employers develop effective workplace programs to help people improve their financial well-being. 

Employers can put into practice our five principles of effective financial education to help workers set goals and work toward achieving them. 

Learn more about the five principles

The five principles and how to use them

1. Know the individuals and families to be served

Financial education programs are more effective if they are matched to people’s specific circumstances, challenges, and goals. You can serve your workers by:

  • Starting with an assessment tool like our Financial Well-Being Questionnaire
  • Avoiding judgement and preconceived notions, and respect individual money situations and goals
  • Recognizing diversity in situations and goals in groups

2. Provide actionable, relevant, and timely information

People are more likely to absorb information if it is connected to an upcoming decision that matters to them, at the time when they can put it to use, with concrete steps they can follow. You can:

  • Help each worker break down financial goals into smaller steps, with bite-sized objectives within bigger goals, then tackle one step before moving on to the next
  • Consider using technology, like programs or organizations that send text messages, to deliver relevant and actionable information in a timely fashion 
  • Meet people where they are: focus on the top concerns of the individual, instead of trying to provide all education at once

3. Improve key money skills

To put financial knowledge to use, your workers need to build skills. Key skills include knowing when and how to find reliable information to make financial decisions, how to process the information, and how to follow through. Help your workers build financial skill by:

  • Demonstrating the value of comparison shopping — the time that people use to compare products will result in savings — and provide simplified worksheets to help them comparison shop
  • Steering your workforce to local resources, like libraries and nonprofits, for objective information at no cost
  • Using tools like expense trackers, goal trackers, and online coaching to help build skills, deliver information, and maintain attention and follow-through

4. Build on motivation

Financial education can help people strengthen qualities and attitudes that allow them to stay motivated. In your workplace, you can help people focus on their own values rather than external influences, persevere in the face of obstacles, and build confidence that they can achieve their own money goals. Build motivation in your workplace by:

  • Setting up a buddy system where workers help one another stay on track
  • Celebrating successes early and often by recognizing and acknowledging when a short-term goal is achieved 
  • Getting one thing done right away – even a small step – so that workers feel the satisfaction of accomplishing something and feel more eager to take the next step

5. Make it easy to make good decisions and follow through

The situations people encounter can strongly influence what they actually do. In the workplace, you can help people follow through on their intentions by working with the influences or forces at play in their surroundings. Encourage good decision-making by:

  • Helping workers set up automatic transactions that support specific goals. For example, see our suggestions for building savings in the workplace
  • Removing hassles that can derail progress; find ways to simplify or eliminate steps so that people can more easily follow through on their financial intentions
  • Keeping it simple – a text message reminder can be as effective as a financial incentive or giveaway 

Review the report

For more context, research, descriptions, and practical examples of each principle, see the Principles of Effective Financial Education report.

Read full report