How to support employees’ financial wellbeing in the short, medium and long-term
Employee wellbeing has risen up the corporate agenda for many organisations over the last couple of years. Employers are recognising the impact poor financial health can have on their workforce, and ultimately on their business.
Employees are increasingly looking to their employer to provide a workplace environment where they feel valued, cared for and supported. Those that do this well are rewarded with engagement, loyalty and increased productivity.
Our latest research of 10,000 UK employees, Employee wellbeing: the changing dynamics of financial health, explores the impact of the pandemic on personal wellbeing and the role of the workplace. The report found:
- more than half (56%) of employees do not feel secure in their job
- over half (55%) do not feel their employer cares about them
- only one in three (33%) feel motivated by their employers’ reward and benefits offering.
So how can organisations support the financial wellbeing of their workforce for today and tomorrow?
Here we share five key areas for organisations to consider as part of their financial wellbeing strategy.
1. Building knowledge and understanding
Providing financial education and the sharing of information is a fundamental part of any wellbeing strategy. Employees need to understand what they have available to them, when products and services may or may not be suitable for their situation, and how these fit into their wider financial planning.
Whether that is providing online resources, or seminars and workshops, financial education will build confidence within the workforce. It will help to increase financial capability and resilience, which ultimately leads to reduced stress and anxiety.
Our research found that currently, only one in seven (14%) employees have access to financial education, but more than two in five would value this (41%).
2. Access to a range of products to support all aspects of wellbeing
Everyone’s life experiences are different. The situations we have lived through and what we encounter day to day vary even for those within the same ‘generational box’. Our living arrangements, our family and the choices we make with our finances mean everyone is unique, hence the support we require will vary.
The aim of employee benefits is to provide options that employees can choose to take up based on their personal circumstances. There are core foundations that all employees need and should have access too, but outside of that – flexibility is key.
Communicating what is available and providing access to those products and services will enable employees to understand their options and utilise them when, and if, they need too.
3. Access to support and guidance for those in need
Using data to understand employees can help organisations to identify areas of vulnerability and challenge. This can be hugely beneficial when shaping the employer’s wellbeing strategy.
For many, using this information to shape targeted communication and signpost the support available allows the messages to be more effective. Whether the support you offer includes helplines, trusted websites, products, services or advice – supporting employees with a range of ‘easy to access’ options, without judgement or stigma, when they need it the most will provide invaluable help for those struggling.
4. Creating a supportive workplace culture – it’s ok to not be ok
Historically, the perception is that financial stress arises due to a lack of planning, poor decision making and negative behaviours. This plays into the stigmas associated with poor financial health. Little acknowledgement is given where situations arise such as accidents, ill-health and unexpected events like we have seen over the past 18 months. All of these factors can also be contributors to financial stress and anxiety.
A lot of great work has been done over the last decade to remove the stigma associated with poor mental health, and we are now at a point where the same outlook needs to be applied to poor financial health. Never before have we had a better opportunity to talk about money where every single person has been impacted, be that positively or negatively.
Let’s use this opportunity to build a supportive workplace environment where people can ask for help to improve their personal financial health.
5. Evaluating and evolving your benefits offering
Organisations spend a significant amount of money on employee benefits, and many elements often have minimal take up from the workforce. As we’ve mentioned, that doesn’t necessarily mean the benefits aren’t adding anything to the strategy, it could simply be that a small proportion of employees have that need at that particular time – that may change in the future.
One of the things to consider is whether the benefits you have available are effectively communicated – do employees know what they have access to? Do they understand the benefit? And do they know how and when to access that option?
This takes us back to data. Using data to understand your workforce will enable you to understand what benefits are likely to be of value either today, or in the future. As mentioned above, only one in three say they are currently motivated by the rewards and benefits available – do you know what those benefits are in your organisation? Aligning the support you offer, with areas employees value will ensure you receive the best return on your investment.
The author is Heidi J Allan, senior financial wellbeing consultant at LCP.
This article is provided by LCP.
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