Five steps to understanding your employees’ true money management needs
While money problems may be considered a personal issue, various research reports have identified that it is in an employer’s best interest to help alleviate their employees’ financial worries. For example, a joint study by the HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), identified that financial stress costs the UK £121 billion and that equates to 18 million working hours in lost productivity each year.
Some employers have various tools and services in place to help employees, such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) that offer help with money management or access to independent financial advice. However, simply having the tools in place is not enough.
Financial wellbeing needs to be an integral part of an employer’s Employee Experience (EX) package but too many employers find they simply don’t have the time or resources available to focus on employee financial wellbeing, despite its importance. The challenge for employers is to review, develop and define a financial wellness strategy that is targeted and relevant.
Five step action plan
Establishing a framework for a financial wellbeing strategy is important and can be much easier than expected if taken one step at a time:
- Step one: Firstly, survey employees to understand their needs more holistically. This includes gaining a better understanding of the financial pressures they may be under.
For example, many first-time employees are entering the workforce with considerable personal debt. The average outstanding student loan debt on entry to the job market in England stands at £34,800, according to independent research by Statista.
Citizens Advice also report a 34% risein the number of under-25s seeking help with high-cost credit in the last two years, as they are borrowing money simply to cover their basic living costs.
Unsecured household debt, such as credit cards, overdrafts and car loans, add further financial pressures. So, trying to extol the virtues of a pension to this group simply doesn’t work. If they’re struggling financially, it’s unlikely they’ll have any spare disposal income to save for the long-term.
- Step two: Consider the use of geodemographics which enable employers to segment employees into key groups. This, in turn, helps establish parameters for future support.
Employers can only really help their employees by getting to know them individually. As mentioned, for many young employees, debt management may be their focus. In other words, trying not to compound existing debt. But for other employees, financial wellbeing might be more centred on changing behaviours and creating good habits to help build a solid financial foundation. Appropriate support in this instance might include education on how to live within their financial means and balancing necessities with short-term luxuries.
At the same time, there will also be employees looking to establish a solid financial base, to help with saving to perhaps buy a home or to marry. Educating them on the various savings and mortgage options available is likely to represent the priority.
Understanding an individual’s life-stage and their ambitions are paramount. This means having access to good data and it’s where the range of geodemographic tools now available in the market come into their own.
The detail provided across numerous data points - which include: demographic profile; behaviour; lifestyle; and third-party survey data - means employers are able to fine tune and personalise benefits and messages throughout an employee’s working life. This ensures that the right message gets to the right employees, at the right time.
- Step three: Select the most effective areas on which to focus support. This requires employers to listen to their employees.
Employee reward used to be about pay primarily. It’s now about understanding what employees want and need. Only when the support available is understood and valued will employees take full advantage of the help and tools available to them.
So, it’s important that employers listen to their employees. The requirement for employers to focus much more on employee wellbeing is expected to increase with the introduction of Corporate Governance Reform, which aims to ensure that employee voices are heard in the Boardroom.
- Step four: Having analysed the data from the first three stages, it’s then possible to identify needs and priorities and make plans for a financial wellbeing strategy suited to employee needs.
- Step five: Finally, signpost to the services available using key trigger points to provide support to employees at different life-stages.
As highlighted, with different employee needs, financial wellbeing support will vary. It may range from help to understand the value of financial advice, or the need for simple budgeting tools to help with day to day finances. Alternatively, the focus might be on wealth management and / or retirement.
Walk the talk
The key is to integrate a financial wellbeing strategy into an EX programme that is available throughout the organisation. Technology can help achieve this, by integrating everything employees experience throughout their working life, while also providing evidence to the Board that employees’ true money management needs are understood and supported – together, of course, with the value to the business of this understanding.
For more information on how to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to Financial Wellbeing, take a look at our White Paper on the subject.
The author of this article is Andrew Woolnough, Director of HR Solutions at Equiniti and Darren Laverty, Financial Wellbeing Strategist and author of “Make Their Money Count: How to Run an Effective Workplace Financial Education Programme”
This article was provided by Equiniti.
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