Fostering Employee Financial Wellness with Delta's VP of Total Rewards

The Next Practices Weekly call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders each Thursday at 11am ET / 8am PT. On this week's call, i4cp Senior Research Analysts Carol Morrison and Tom Stone facilitated a conversation with special guest Kelley Elliott, Vice President of Total Rewards at Delta Air Lines. Here are some highlights from the call:

  • HR at Delta is mostly structured in a traditional, three-part framework: service delivery team, COEs, and HRBPs. One aspect that is more rare is that Delta has carved out some of the health and wellness-related functions outside of HR, by hiring in 2021 a Chief Health and Wellness Officer who reports directly to the CEO. This is important because it speaks to the focus on employees holistic wellness at Delta.
  • Delta, and the airline industry more broadly, had a massive boom in hiring in 2021 and early in 2022, after a steep decline in employment in 2020 due to the pandemic. More recently they've had a slowdown in hiring, but a ramp up in skill development and productivity given all of the relatively new hires in their workforce.
  • Coming out of the pandemic, Delta wanted to extend their already significant focus on holistic well-being. They surveyed their employees on the topic of financial well-being, and two issues were clearly the top concerns for employees: a lack of emergency savings and a lack of retirement savings. Part of the issue was employees' understanding of what they can do to work on both of these challenges.
  • To help employees with emergency savings, they created a program whereby employees opened an emergency savings account, completed an education program, met with a financial coach, were given $750 of seed money for their accounts, and then if the employee contributes $250, then Delta will contribute an additional $250.
  • Delta has tracked several metrics of this program, with the following results so far:
    • >43,000 Delta people engaged
    • >29,000 Goal Booster Cash Management Accounts Opened w/ Payroll Deduction
    • $14.5 million Delta incentives earned
    • ~3 million minutes of financial education videos watched
    • 31,000+ Fidelity coaching session attended
    • 15,000+ completed education and coaching
    • $100 median monthly savings
    • 82% "pure savers" who haven't made a withdrawal (18% have withdrawn some of the money)
  • They have also done a pre- and post-assessment of employees, and have seen significant increases employees' feelings of their financial well-being, including:
    • +66% overall financial situation
    • +44% ability to spend less than they earn
    • +139% ability to save for other goals
  • The employee satisfaction levels with the program are also high:
    • 79% very/satisfied with quality of education and coaching
    • 75% very/satisfied with time and effort to receive incentive
    • 70 Net Promoter Score for the program
  • Next up for Elliott will be to measure the ROI of this financial wellness program, meaning linking participation in the program to business outcomes, such as increased retention rates, increased productivity, etc.
  • This Delta program is making some news, e.g., this CNBC article published on 9/23/2023: "Delta's emergency savings initiative offers workers up to $1,000 each. Here's how it works."

Links to resources shared on the call: