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Workplace financial wellness was the key to helping me navigate an apartment building fire

“My apartment building caught on fire” is just as (if not more) unbelievable than the classic excuse, “my dog ate my homework,” but I reassure you it really did happen. Initially, I thought it was just a minor kitchen fire in someone's unit, but it was actually a rooftop inferno (see photo above). Fortunately or unfortunately? I was away for the weekend.  As you can probably guess, the trip was cut short, and the panic and fear I experienced in the middle of the night when I received pictures of my building on fire were unimaginable. So unimaginable that when I woke up the following day, I thought it had been a dream. Despite all of the panic, fear, and crazy thoughts running through my mind, like “everything has to be ruined,” “I don’t have a home to go back to,” and “what do I do?” (which might be the most obvious question), I also thought, “everything is going to be alright.” 

Why wasn’t I worried? How my workplace wellness culture kept me on my feet 

Now, I’m a little biased in what I’m about to write, but that last thought I had, “everything is going to be alright,” is primarily due to working at Your Money Line (and, of course, the fact I had renters insurance, but we’ll get into that later). YML offers financial wellness to companies to provide as an employer-sponsored benefit to their employees—and we have the opportunity to use our own product too!

The biggest reason I could navigate all of this craziness is that I was able to walk through all of it with one of our Financial Guides. I had renters insurance, but it’s one of those things you don’t think you’ll ever need. At least, I never thought I would. In a phone call with one of our guides, we put a plan together on what to do with the insurance money I got, but more importantly, my anxiety around the whole situation decreased, and I felt like I could actually get through it. I also realized I had way more questions than I initially thought, but I never felt judged or overwhelmed. 

Having access to a financial wellness service as someone who is right out of college has been a game changer. I will admit a year ago, I had no idea what financial wellness was, I also would have never predicted my apartment would catch on fire, but you win some, you lose some, right? All jokes aside, I learned firsthand how financial wellness for employees is one of the best benefits you could offer your organization. 

But a culture of wellness goes way beyond just a great financial wellness benefit. I wholeheartedly believe in our product, mission, and values. In fact, every one of my coworkers not only believes in our product and supports our mission, financial stability and confidence for all, but they truly live out the values we have on our wall in our office, which are: lead with empathy, support the team, embrace growth, and lastly, take care of yourself. 

I credit the feeling of safety and reassurance I had amidst the feelings of fear and panic due to YML. The biggest reason for this is, since I started back in July, a week hasn’t gone by where I didn’t hear someone emphasize, if not all, of our values, at least one of them. This wasn’t all talk either; I have an executive team who leads by example. I saw them take time off when needed, offer support and help to coworkers wherever they saw they could, and in short, just be human. I’ve never had to question my ability to take time off and could share what I was going through without fear. 

The feeling of safety I had: How financial wellness at work impacts employees 

This situation made me realize the importance of financial wellness benefits and an overall workplace wellness culture. Financial wellness programs for employees are becoming a must-have benefit, and employers need to consider their team's overall well-being to succeed. Workplace financial wellness will increase employee productivity and engagement, decreasing turnover rates. Financial wellness examples include expert one-on-one coaching, programs offering resources, webinars, articles, etc., to further financial education, and software to help your employees' financial journey.  Offering employee financial wellness programs are also a great way to stand out amongst other companies because it shows your willingness as an employer to put your employees first. Financial wellness companies, like YML, are here to help employees with everyday money problems to figuring out how to reach long-term financial goals.

Navigating the last possible thing I would ever think would happen to me was, although not easy, manageable because of the support of my coworkers, our company mission, and its’ values. I realize the uniqueness (and bias I have) that comes with working at a small tech SaaS company that happens to offer one of the most valuable employee benefits there is, but to me, these feelings should be the norm for employees everywhere, at any size company.