Case studies

West Coast Financial: Supporting employee wellness with a flexible benefits solution

West Coast Financial partnered with Forma to design and implement a flexible wellness program to boost employee usage. Read the case study.

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Prioritizing a wellness program to meet the needs of each employee 

West Coast Financial provides a 360-degree range of financial services, including planning, management, and consultation for hundreds of clients across the United States. Headquartered in Santa Barbara, the WCF team has a presence across California with the workforce operating in-office/hybrid model. Employee wellness has been a priority for WCF. The company sought to expand its wellness initiatives and find a solution that would meet the needs of each of its employees. 

The challenge: Finding a holistic solution without administrative overload

WCF had already established employee wellness as a value; it offered employees the flexibility to take time out of the workday for exercise and other active pursuits. However, it struggled to find a wellness benefit that supported this core value and showed its employees their unique needs are appreciated. 

In addition, the team was concerned about adding time-consuming activities such as collecting receipts, issuing reimbursements, and troubleshooting employee issues to the administrative team. Additionally, they wanted a solution that had high employee engagement – they wanted their team members to use and value the program. 

At first, WCF considered a gym reimbursement program. However, the team quickly realized the shortcomings of this option as it didn’t fit all their employee's needs. Furthermore, the solution needed a holistic solution that was flexible and easy for those administering the program to manage and for those using it. Enter Forma.  

The approach: Creating a flexible wellness program 

WCF partnered with Forma to design and implement a wellness spending account using the Forma platform. Research showed that other companies giving gym membership stipends were spending between $40 and $60 per employee, per month. Using that research as a baseline for budgeting, the administration team then factored in the higher-than-average cost of living in its employee locations. Ultimately, with solid research and planning, the team pitched a Wellness Wallet program to leadership and the new program was approved with funding of $100 per month for all full-time employees and $50 per month for part-time employees. 

WCF’s Wellness Wallet was designed to be a flexible program that supports employees’ overall well-being. It provides a high level of customization, allowing employees to purchase goods and services that are valuable to them – from running shoes to golf clubs and almost anything in between – in place of a cookie-cutter solution. In addition, it was valuable to all employees, regardless of location, and didn’t include a rollover feature so they’d use the funds each month. 

The solution: Seamless integration, training, and communication strategy 

Employee training and communication was identified as a critical component of the program’s success. The administration team knew they needed a multi-pronged approach that would reach all employees, providing the information in multiple formats to ensure employee engagement and buy-in. 

To that end, Forma worked with WCF to design a communications and training strategy that would begin pre-launch and continue with the rollout of the program. Pre-launch communication included multiple training sessions and reminders using flyers, emails, Zoom, and Slack. Post-launch, the admin team ensured continued communication with Slack messages that are programmed to dispatch the second-to-last day of each month with a reminder that the due date is approaching as well as details on how to submit claims for reimbursement. 

Forma’s platform integrated seamlessly with WCF’s payroll system and is easy to use for both employees and administrators. Implementation lasted six weeks, from conception to rollout: 

  • September: Contracted with Forma, designed program, and established policies
  • October: Integrated Forma platform into the existing payroll system, began employee training and communication
  • November: Employees began using Wellness Wallet  

The results: Happy employees with high program engagement

The program has higher than 90 percent employee engagement, an approval rate for claims of 95 percent, and employees have communicated their satisfaction with the program to HR. Forma handles employee support issues directly when they arise, freeing HR staff to focus on other responsibilities. 

“Forma made this successful by providing options that are customizable to our employee needs instead of a cookie-cutter approach. The funds can be used for running shoes, golf clubs, or almost anything that supports each employee’s wellness activities – not just a gym membership,” Heil said. “This is a wellness product that fits all our team members’ needs, regardless of preferences, goals, or work location. Forma is easy to use for employees and administrators – it integrates easily with payroll and purchases/reimbursements are easy to navigate for employees.” 

- Kachina Heil, Director of HR at West Coast Financial