Summer 1989 // Volume 27 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW5

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The Why and How of Worksite Financial Management Seminars


Barbara O'Neill
Extension Home Economist
Rutgers Cooperative Extension
Newton, New Jersey

More than 60% of pre-retirement age women are employed today. Over half of all married couples have two wage earners and 22% of households are headed by a single parent.1 This means some people simply don't have time to attend evening or weekend meetings on financial planning...or any other topic.

When potential clients can't come to Extension, agents must go to them. An ideal place to do this is at the worksite. The key to successful worksite seminars is convincing the owner or personnel director of their value to the firm. One successful approach is to stress that seminars are an inexpensive way for employers to show workers they care.

According to a study conducted by The Labor Relations Institute, the primary factors motivating employees are full appreciation of their work and a feeling of belonging at the worksite. Higher wages were a secondary factor. Ironically, employers thought their employees' primary motivators cost money. Employers listed higher wages first followed by job security, promotion within the company, and an improved benefit package. The job "satisfiers" listed first by employees were listed last by employers.2

When contacting employers about worksite seminars, it's important to stress that problems with personal finance can be reduced by education. People who handle money well often make better employees. Credit unions, labor unions, professional associations, civic and service groups, and Chambers of Commerce may also be receptive to this message.

An explanatory letter is the best way to approach employers, followed by a phone call and/or an on-site visit. Be sure to stress the educational and generic content of your seminars, and be prepared to adjust your seminar plans to fit the employers' time constraints. Some will provide release time to workers, while others will ask that your program be confined to lunch breaks or after-shift hours.

Another benefit to employers of worksite seminars is the opportunity it gives them to explain company benefit plans to a large number of workers at once. Team teaching with a representative of the local Social Security office and the employer's benefit administrator is recommended. No one knows the specifics of Social Security regulations and company benefit packages better than the people who administer them. And, an employer who's involved in the seminar is more likely to promote it to employees.

Ask ahead about the salary levels of your employee audience. If you cite examples using inappropriate salary levels, you can alienate them, particularly if they earn less than the amounts you indicate. If your audience includes everyone from a teenage file clerk to the CEO, cite several examples in a variety of salary ranges.

Be sure, also, to contact the local newspaper to arrange press coverage about your seminars. If they're unresponsive, write a press release yourself and send it along with a quality black and white photo. You might also ask about coverage in the employer's newsletter. Articles about your initial worksite seminars can be a useful tool to convince subsequent employers of their value.

Financial management seminars at the worksite are an ideal way to reach busy potential clients. The prerequisites for success are convincing employers of their benefit and holding them at a convenient time and location.


1. Lois Guthrie, "A Demographic Study: Meeting the Needs of a Changing Society" (Montclair, New Jersey: Montclair State College, 1987).

2. Paul Richard, "Productivity Increases Made Easy by Personal Motivation," The Retail Banking Report, I (March 1986), 24.