How important is it to employees that their organization or company offer financial wellness programs? A new survey makes it clear that it is very important.

In this survey, reported in Credit Union Times, 86 percent of employees said it was important to them that their employers offer financial wellness programs. But only 46 percent of those same employees said their company or organization had one.

If only a company could offer a financial wellness program without having to spend money on it. If only that program could be set up in partnership with a credit union that would underwrite the costs. That would be an ideal arrangement, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s exactly the way we have modeled PerkUp, to make financial wellness programs easily available to more companies and more employees.

Among other interesting findings, the survey noted that for those employees whose companies do offer a financial wellness program, two out of three admit they should know more about the programs than they do. But maybe the fault is in the program itself, because a third of the employees described their programs as “intimidating” and more than half wished their program used “friendlier” language.

Again, these are the very reasons that at PerkUp, we take the approach we do. The PerkUp program is designed to be entertaining, fun, easy to use, and rewarding, with employees earning points toward “perks” for their participation.

Back to the survey. For those employees whose companies do not currently offer financial wellness programs, 70 percent said they would take advantage of these programs to help them better manage their finances and prepare for their futures.

But it seems from the survey that for some employees, there is a negative perception of financial wellness programs. About one out of three see a stigma attached to participation, and fear that using these services makes them look bad. There’s a reason for this, which is that too many financial wellness programs come across as negative, with their focus on fixing people, getting them out of debt and remedying their bad financial behavior.

The PerkUp approach is all positive, from the approach we take to the on-screen activities the employees can take part in, which mix education and games. We don’t scold, we encourage.

As the survey found, programs that use phrases such as “living within your means” or that aim to fix an employee’s spending habits are perceived very negatively and get tuned out. In contrast, more optimistic language, such as “planning for retirement” or “maximizing your savings” is seen very positively.

This survey really validates our whole approach at PerkUp. The way we see it, it’s all about making financial wellness and education enjoyable. And rewarding – both emotionally and through the fun perks that employees earn.