Worried about paying the bills? Stressed over debt? Wondering how you'll ever pay off your mortgage? You're not alone. Personal finance is the No. 1 distraction for employees today, and some 40 percent of team members admit that stress over personal finance negatively affects their productivity, according to Dave Ramsey, founder of The Lampo Group, Brentwood, Tenn. And no matter the income, 70 percent of employees are living paycheck to paycheck.
Ramsey understands financial challenges. He has "been there and done that," forced to declare bankruptcy within four years of accumulating a $4 million real estate portfolio. With his finance and real estate degrees as well as his personal struggles with money, he now counsels others about financial management through columns, a nationally syndicated radio show and books.
To help employees, companies are now offering his program Financial Peace @ Work, which is designed to eliminate the distraction of personal finance by teaching employees how to control finances and set realistic goals.
Financial Peace @ Work focuses on behavior, not just the symptoms of financial problems. According to Ramsey, personal finance is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent knowledge. The program encourages behaviors like saving at least $1,000 as soon as possible for emergency situations, as well as getting rid of numerous credit cards.
Jeff Green, president and owner of Greco Frame & Supply, a subsidiary of the Oklahoma City, Okla.-based Hobby Lobby retailer, heard Ramsey on the radio and realized that he too worried about his personal finances. And if he did, chances were his 300 employees did as well. Greco now provides the program, facilitated by one of Greco's HR employees, at the end of the work day. It generally takes two hours; the first hour is on company time, the second on employee time, but the course is provided at no cost.
Greco recently sent a Spanish-speaking employee to Ramsey's train-the-trainer course and offered the program in Spanish. "I've had people come and tell me, 'I've never had extra cash in my pocket before,'" Green says. "Financial Peace @ Work is probably the best thing we've ever done. The benefits are unbelievable."
Indeed, they are impressive. On average, Green says, a Financial Peace @ Work participant's family pays off $5,300 in debt and saves $2,700 in the first 91 days after beginning the program. In 18 to 24 months, aside from their mortgage, they are completely out of debt.
Financial Peace @ Work is available in three formats: a one-day workshop, a 13-week class and a train-the-trainer course that allows companies to offer it internally. —H.J.