For our first ever Plan Sponsor Spotlight, we spoke with Jessica Feldman, Director of People Operations at Harry’s, Inc., leading the strategy and implementation of People Operations including Benefits, Equity Admin, Payroll, HRIS, Compliance, Leave of Absence and Immigration.
Read on to see what she had to say about what financial wellness means for her team, why it’s important to offer a 401(k), and more.
What does financial wellness mean for you and your team?
At Harry’s, we think about financial wellness as a key component of overall wellness. If an employee doesn’t feel positively about their financial well-being, it can have ripple effects on their lives both personally and professionally. For me, financial wellness means employees understand their financial situation, and have a plan in place to continue to improve that situation for both their short term, medium term, and longer term financial goals. This means they can handle not only unexpected bills and expenses right now, but can also retire on a beach (or in the mountains or the city, wherever they want!) when they’re ready. Given this, it’s incredibly important that Harry’s supports employees by providing a holistic benefits package that helps with immediate and future financial needs.
What are the most pressing questions your employees ask about their finances?
We get a lot of questions from employees about how they can get the most value out of our benefit plans. This past year we made a lot of changes to our benefits, so we held open enrollment education sessions for all employees to have the opportunity to ask questions about the new plans. The number of people who realized they could benefit financially from a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) was quite remarkable. I loved seeing everyone’s minds working during that section of the presentation as they realized the potential tax saving benefits of an FSA! I received great follow up questions from employees wanting to ensure they knew how to best maximize the account before they enrolled.
Why is it important to you and your company to offer a 401(k)?
Offering a 401(k) plan is the best way to encourage employees to think about their longer term financial needs and help them begin planning for the kind of financial future they want. Retirement can often seem far off and not like an immediate priority, but because of the benefits of compound interest, we know that the more people can save early in their career, the better off they’ll be 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years down the line. My parents once said “you can get a loan to buy a house, but no one will loan you money for retirement.” I’ve carried that mantra with me as I’ve tried to personally prioritize saving for the long term, and have always made having a high quality, low cost 401(k) plan available for employees to do the same.
How does technology help you manage your 401(k) plan, employee benefits, and HR processes more efficiently? What tools do you use?
Prior to moving Harry’s to Betterment, we had a 401(k) provider with pretty outdated technology. It was hard to navigate, and transparency on fees and fund performance was difficult to find and often buried deep in their site. Our participation and engagement was low, with only around 25%-30% of our team enrolled in the plan. One of the key reasons we moved to Betterment was because of how strong and intuitive their technology is, and how transparency is a key value for their plans. I have often found that the higher the bar to enrollment (if it’s too hard to find info or there are too many funds to pick from) the less likely people will enroll, which is counter to the purpose of offering a 401(k) plan for our team. With Betterment’s technology, our participation is now around 90%.
What do you think is the biggest opportunity for employers when it comes to overall workplace wellness?
We constantly continue to explore this area ourselves, trying to ensure that our benefits are meeting the diverse needs of our population and encouraging wellness in all forms (mental, physical, financial, and more). As our team grows, these needs are bound to change, and we need to keep up to meet them. This past year we partnered with a primary care and insurance navigation company called Eden Health. The partnership offers many perks to our employees, including 24/7/365 primary care via their app, insurance navigation to help employees make sure they understand potential costs upfront, a growing network of private in-person medical offices, and integrated, free behavioral and mental health counseling with their in-house providers (among many other things). Having this partnership through Eden has been huge for our team, since it gives our employees the peace of mind to know there is a dedicated team of healthcare providers out there helping them make smart, well informed, and cost conscious decisions on their physical and mental health care.
If you could give one piece of advice to your team, what would it be?
I tried to come up with a better answer than “don’t wait,” but seriously, don’t wait. I started maxing out my 401(k) account as soon as I could spare the extra money from my checks. I’m still many years away from retirement, but knowing I’m doing what I can to maximize the ability for my contributions to compound over time makes me feel like I’m making real progress. I know not everyone can max out their account, but start with whatever you can, and slowly increase that each year. You’d be surprised how you learn to live off of what’s remaining.
What does your dream retirement look like?
I recently visited Isla Mujeres in Mexico where my fiancé and I drove around the island all afternoon on a golf cart. It was transformative! I’ve decided I don’t want to retire if my main mode of transit can’t be commuting via golf cart.