Employee Financial Wellness Tools Empower Over 1 Million Employees

Mad*Pow partnered with Walmart to improve employee financial wellness. Mad*Pow designed a targeted intervention involving a series of tools. With the new tools employees can improve their budgeting and financial freedom.

  • 80,000 employees are currently using the intervention and have moved $3M
  • Almost half of US workers (48%) feel uneasy and financially insecure
  • This intervention was designed for over 1 Million employees across over 3,500 locations
  • 7 of 10 US workers report that financial stress is their most common source of stress

a societal problem

The Process: Understanding Employee Financial Wellness

Mad*Pow first needed to understand the employee financial wellness problem space. This included research and behavior change analysis into:

  • the impact we intended to achieve,
  • how we might measure that change,
  • what individual, interpersonal and environmental factors were at play, and
  • what resources we could leverage.

To begin, Mad*Pow led the Walmart team in a three-day workshop. Here, the teams aligned on which behaviors to target.

Next, Mad*Pow's behavior change designers performed a literature review. A literature review examines current research, studies, and journals. In this case, the focus was on employee financial wellness and what causes or blocks it. At the same time, the team interviewed subject matter experts about financial wellness. They also spoke with over 150 Walmart employees. Finally, the team surveyed Walmart employees to learn how they act and what they need. These four research tracks offered a holistic view of the problem space.

workshop photo
M*P: output from collaborative workshops


Using the COM-B Model, Mad*Pow connected behaviors with their causes or barriers. They also performed a thematic analysis of the research data. This led to several key insights. The team presented the insights as a targeted intervention strategy.

com-b model
M*P: COM-B model, Michie, Richardson et al. (2013)

Intervention Design

Now came the design work. Mad*Pow designed a multi-layered approach. At the top level, they built "Gravy", a financial wellbeing hub. The app made it easy for employees to see and understand their benefits. Gravy also included activities to help employees build financial literacy skills.

M*P: wireframe concepts

But this wasn't all. Mad*Pow also worked with Walmart to implement a call center. Here, Walmart offers advice to employees in financial need. Staffed by Walmart, the call center is a lifeline for those in need. The final piece of the intervention addressed paycheck uncertainty. It integrated Walmart's payroll service with the apps Even and PayActiv. These two services stabilize paychecks from week to week, to make budgeting easier.


final design
M*P: mobile visual design concepts

Pilot Testing

Mad*Pow launched three trials across 16 locations. In each location, an email campaign alerted employees. The team tracked how many employees clicked-thru, and used the tools. Based on A/B testing, the team then optimized uptake and engagement.


M*P: research highlights

The Results: Accessible Employee Financial Wellness

Over 80,000 Walmart employees are currently using the intervention, and 1.4 million employees have access to it. Thus far, over $3 million in employee assets has been moved as a result.


M*P: visual concepts


final design
M*P: tablet design concepts

Key Services

  • Research and TestingBefore designing anything, Mad*Pow conducted interviews and surveys. Throughout the project the team continued to learn. Desirability and usability testing, as well as A/B tests added to the team's knowledge.
  • Behavior Change DesignThe Behavior Change team led the work to incentivize employees and help them connect financial wellness to their internal values. Through this work, the focus on behavior change ensured creation of effective interventions.
  • Content StrategyThe Behavior Change team led the work to incentivize employees. They connected an abstract idea (financial wellness) to things employees value. The focus on behavior change is what made the tools effective. Content Strategy: The right voice and message are key to connecting with an audience. The team used messages that matter in the emails and the app. The results came through in testing.
  • Experience Design: Translating a strategy into reality is a tall order. Mad*Pow's designers built an attractive and easy to use experience. Gravy's design both helped and delighted employees.
  • Mobile App and Web DevelopmentFrom APIs to dynamic content, the developers were unsung heroes on this project. Their work brought this financial wellness intervention to life.


“Financial illiteracy is not an issue unique to any one population. It affects everyone: men and women, young and old, across all racial and socioeconomic lines. No longer can we stand by and ignore this problem. The economic future of the United States depends on it.”

President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy