Financial wellness: What is it? How do we make it happen?

August 2020

As the U.S. moves through and past the Covid-19 pandemic, individuals will strive to rebuild their financial resilience. Many will turn to their employers for help.


Achieving financial wellness takes more than just financial resources. It also requires the ability to make good financial decisions and engage in sound money- management practices. To inform policies and programs that promote financial wellness—including those sponsored by employers—the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center held a roundtable discussion featuring a range of experts. This report presents the key findings and recommendations that emanated from the discussion. To learn more about the roundtable itself, visit the events page.

Key Insights
Process discipline—i.e., developing and maintaining good financial habits—is an often-neglected factor contributing to financial well-being.
Uncertainty regarding business value has held back employer sponsorship of financial wellness programs.
More employees may be inclined to participate in financial wellness programs post-pandemic, but reticence to discuss personal finances in a work setting is likely to remain.
Technology and social media can deliver “near-peer” examples of appropriate financial behavior at different life stages.
Needs assessments, grounded in objective indicators of financial wellness, are essential for providing tailored resources to employees.

The roundtable was held on November 15, 2019, at The George Washington University School of Business and featured 31 thought leaders from business, academic and public policy communities. While the event occurred before the onset of the pandemic and resulting economic crisis, the issues discussed are particularly relevant as our nation moves forward.