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How you can encourage wellness in the workplace ahead of self care month

September is self care awareness month, and there are ways to encourage wellness in the workplace — no matter the size of the company. Tom Merton/Getty Images

September is self-care awareness month. The purpose of the awareness campaign is to remind Americans that it is necessary to mindfully and purposefully care for yourself. Not only can individuals take steps toward self-care, but employers can play a role, too. Many employers are focusing on employee wellness, including financial wellness, realizing that when their workforce is happy and healthy, productivity rises, and their business grows.

Many innovative companies today offer wellness benefits, such as in-office yoga, massages, and acupuncture. Additionally, some companies encourage outside fitness by reimbursing gym memberships, organizing sports leagues, and coordinating classes at boutique studios.

While physical fitness is key to a healthy workforce, so is mental health. Employers have been known to provide meditation and napping rooms within the office, team trips, and flexible PTO. A wise employer will insist their employees use their PTO to refresh and decompress before returning to work with a new vigor. Several tech companies have even made confidential health assessments available and made gaining access to mental professionals easier.

As part of their wellness benefits offerings, companies should encourage financial wellness for their employees. One common contributor to our physical and mental stress is our finances. An American Psychological Association survey found that 62 percent of Americans count money as a stressor. Additionally, a Morgan Stanley study found that 78 percent of employees who report high financial stress say that their financial stress is a distraction at work.

Financial self-care involves assessing a person's financial situation and how their money is fitting into their life. As an employer, you can help your employees find the right balance in their financial life and provide them with the tools to help with their financial wellness.

Start with reviewing the retirement plan available to your employees. If you do not have a retirement plan instituted already, you will find that setting up a 401(k) is relatively easy and relatively low cost. Plus, it provides your employees with the power of saving for their retirement. This year, the IRS allows employees to contribute up to $19,000 in pre-tax dollars, $25,000 if they are 50 or over.

In addition to offering them a savings vehicle, consider providing 401(k) matching funds. For example, you may match 50 cents for every dollar they contribute. Even if an employee is not contributing to their retirement plan, an employer can still contribute money to their employees' retirement funds as a benefit of employment. Generally speaking, the limit on total employer and employee contributions for 2019 is $56,000, or 100 percent of employee compensation, whichever is lower. What better way to help your employees mind their financial self-care than to actively help them save for a secure future?

As an employer, you may go beyond retirement plans and offer other financial self-care benefits such as help with emergency savings, financial coaching, and student loan repayment. Currently, only four percent of employers offer student loan repayment programs, but that number is growing as a popular benefit for recruitment and retainment. Under this benefit, an employer may pay down a portion of the employee's student debt over a period of time. Of note, there is no tax benefit for a debt repayment benefit, and the money is taxed as income.

This September, take the time to assess the benefits you are offering to employees. Do not forget to include financial wellness as part of your overall plan, benefiting your employees and your business.

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Claudia Mollerup-Madsen is vice president and a financial adviser with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Houston.

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From enlightening talks to networking opportunities, here's where you need to be in October. Photo via Getty Images

From networking meetups to pitch competitions, October is lined with opportunities for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post might be updated to add more events.

Additionally, mark your calendars for November 8 for the annual Houston Innovation Awards.

October 6 — Texas Venture Crawl

Head over to the Ion for pre-panel networking, an engaging Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) investor panel, followed by a happy hour for networking. Panelists include Grace Chan, Principal at bp Ventures; Jason Ethier, Founder of Lambda Catalyzer; Alex Gras, Associate at Mercury Fund; and Billy Grandy, Chief Innovation Officer and Managing Partner at Softeq Venture Fund.

This event is Friday, October 6, from 5 to 8 pm at the Ion. Click here to register.

October 7 — Ideation Competition

The Pearland Innovation Hub is hosting it's first Ideation Competition. Participants will get an opportunity to have mentors guide them through Design Thinking and other methodologies to help generate ideas to solve local civic issues.

This event is Saturday, October 7, from 9:30 am to 3 pm at Pearland Innovation Hub. Click here to register.

October 11 — Emerging Tech: Revolutionizing the Industry Panel

From artificial intelligence and blockchain to virtual reality, this panel will explore the impact of these innovations on businesses and society. Whether you are a tech enthusiast, a professional in the industry, or simply curious about the future of technology, this event will have valuable networking opportunities.

This event is Wednesday, October 11, from 1 to 2 pm at HCC West Loop Campus. Click here to register.

October 13 — Web3, Blockchain, & Crypto...Oh My!

Expert speakers will unravel the mysteries of Web3, showcasing its potential to revolutionize industries like finance, gaming, and more. Learn about the power of Blockchain technology and how it ensures transparency, security, and trust in various sectors. Explore the endless possibilities of Cryptocurrencies and their impact on the global economy.

This event is Friday, October 13, at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 16 — Health & MedTech Mingle

Pumps & Pipes is hosting a night of industry mingles occurring simultaneously at the Ion featuring FinTech, EdTech, Food Tech, and more. This month's featured speaker is Dr. Alan Lumsden, Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery and Chair of the DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center at Houston Methodist.

This event is Monday, October 16, at the Ion. Click here to register.

October 19 — UH Energy Symposium Series - The Future of Mobility Promises & Bottlenecks

The latest installment of UH Energy's Critical Issues in Energy Symposium Series tackles the obstacles facing a transition to a circular economy.

Panelists to include: Dave Mullaney – Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute; Varuna Singh – Deputy District Engineer TxDOT; Erika Myers – Executive Director, CharIN, e.V.; Matt Peterson – President and CEO, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator; Catherine McCreight – Director of Transportation Planning, TxDOT; Funda Sahin – Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, University of Houston (Moderator).

This event is Thursday, October 19, at the University of Houston. Click here to register.

October 25 — Houston Startup Ecosystem Summit

The Houston Startup Ecosystem Summit is an opportunity for innovators, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts to come together and push the boundaries of what's possible. This event features a lineup of panelists, diverse breakout session tracks, and a competitive startup pitch showcase.

This event is Wednesday, October 25, at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 25  — TMC Startup Symposium

The Symposium will include 1:1 time with subject matter experts, industry networking events, educational presentations, and thought leader panel discussions. The following topics will be covered: intellectual property, voice of customer, regulatory reimbursement, clinical commercialization strategy, angel investing, venture capital investing, and serial entrepreneurship. Startup registration is $250 for a ticket.

This event starts Wednesday, October 25, from 8 am to 5 pm at TMCi. Click here to register.

October 26 — Unleash the Power of AI and ChatGPT

Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with a panel of industry experts, and network with like-minded individuals. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting your AI journey, this event is designed to inspire and educate. Discover how AI is revolutionizing various industries and learn how to leverage its power to drive innovation in your own projects.

This event is Thursday, October 26, from 6 to 8:30 pm at the Cannon. Click here to register.

October 27 — SHINE: The Conference on Culture

Shine is a half day conference focused on the organizational structures of workplaces. Attendees can expect to hear from a range of speakers who will share their wisdom gained from industries, from breweries to public relations.

This event is Friday, October 27, from 8 am to 1 pm at Stages. Click here to register.

October 30-31 — Fuze

This energy conference is a must-attend event for executives, investors, and founders serious about solving the energy crisis and boosting company efficiency. Featuring keynotes, expert panels, tech showcases, and networking, Fuze has a variety of activities planned for energy industry professionals. Price of admission ranges from $299-$799.

This event starts on Monday, October 30, from 8 am to 7 pm at 713 Music Hall. Click here to register.

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