Baton Rouge General adopted the PayActiv financial wellness program to reduce employee financial stress and improve retention, productivity, and morale 2 years ago in 2016. Anne Segura, Senior Director of HR at BRG, has seen remarkable improvements since implementing PayActiv, and “welcomes others to the fold” to mitigate their employees’ financial stress as well. Anne also tells us where she feels HR responsibility lies in the U.S. financial stress epidemic.
Anne Segura tells us finding her path in HR was “kind of a happy accident”. Starting out as a staff-level employee in HR—and getting two degrees along the way, a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in Library Information Science—she found she had a knack for the processes and for speaking with people. Over the years and the acquiring of her degrees, she had moved up in the ranks in human resources and came to realize she had a passion for helping employees.
Why Did Baton Rouge General Feel They Needed PayActiv’s Help?
Anne tells us her feelings on the employee financial stress epidemic. She says:
“To say it’s a terribly stressful way to live would be an understatement.
It saddens me greatly to see the people who work so hard not have the value for a dollar that you think would be there or are weighed under loans of any kind that they’ve had to try to use to move forward in life.”
She described the payday loans agencies employees are forced to use as “predatory” multiple times: “We absolutely want to protect [our employees] from predatory loan agencies—and I keep using that word [predatory] because that’s how I feel about it—from these predatory agencies in town that just take over people’s lives.”
“We absolutely want to protect [our employees] from predatory loan agencies—and I keep using that word [predatory] because that’s how I feel about it—from these predatory agencies in town that just take over people’s lives.”
Anne then described that after seeing the press in her organization’s area about loan agencies, she says they thought instead of having their employees borrowing money from predatory outside sources, “why don’t we do this and let people borrow money from themselves?”
Was it Difficult to Create Awareness About PayActiv Within The Organization?
“We really just used 1 or 2 inner communication blurbs—such as including it in benefits announcements as part of our benefits package—and that is it. It has been solely word of mouth.” After announcing PayActiv’s program would be available, they experienced a wildly successful launch within their first payroll cycle, showing that, clearly, the need for a financial wellness program was there and that employees were eager to use this benefit.
The initial impact on employees wasn’t insubstantial, either. Anne tells us her favorite PayActiv user story, of which happens to be one of the first employees to use PayActiv at BRG:
“We had an employee whose family was in Africa—Nigeria, I believe, to be exact—and his mother died. He didn’t have a way to get home for the funeral. He didn’t have enough cash in the bank for that—but, he was able to borrow off of his upcoming paycheck to get enough money to buy the plane ticket to go home for the funeral with PayActiv. His only other option would’ve been to go to a predatory loan agency without this program.”
Study results show that BRG employees have started saving money and are less stressed because of PayActiv—what’s your response to that?
“I say amen, then it’s working correctly. That fulfills the mission of the human resources department of the Baton Rouge General because that’s exactly what the goal is for this project: to allow people to make better decisions so that they’re not overstressed.”
Anne’s hefty experience in human resources—handling everything from benefits, retirement, employee relations, compensation, to even payroll and recruiting for almost 25 years—has helped her thoroughly understand what it takes to properly care for an employee’s entire lifecycle functions. After utilizing PayActiv for almost 2 years, she says she doesn’t know how she could improve this financial wellness program to better help her employees.
When we asked if she’d recommend using PayActiv to other employers, this was her response:
“Absolutely. I think we have an obligation to help our employees do well. We should give them healthy options that will make sure that they’re protected as they move forward in life. It’s my job to remove barriers for people, and sometimes those barriers are internal and sometimes they’re external. I can’t make the traffic better in Baton Rouge, but I can make it so that my people don’t have to get in that traffic to go borrow money from someone that’s going to charge them 300% interest. That’s the least I can do.”
Do you—Anne—have anything else you’d like to say to other employers?
“I would seriously consider PayActiv as an option for your employees. You’re not going to go wrong.”
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