Practical ways to support employees’ financial wellbeing through the coronavirus crisis

A key question to come from last week’s webinar on financial wellbeing centred on what tools and resources employers can utilise to support the financial wellbeing of their workforce through the coronavirus crisis.

Ways to support employees’ financial wellbeing through the coronavirus crisis

Caroline Howes, principal and business development director at Mercer Marsh Benefits, spoke to us about the range of tools employers may already have at their disposal and signposts to other free resources that employers can take advantage of.

Supporting employees with the here and now

At this moment in time, many employees will be struggling financially, putting extra strain on their mental health. This could be because they have been furloughed and are having to manage on a lower salary, they may already have high levels of debt, their family income may have reduced due to a partner losing their job, or perhaps they’re simply anxious about their financial stability in the longer-term.

Whatever the issues, it is clear that many employees are under financial strain. And for employers, offering immediate support is paramount to protecting employee wellbeing.

Financial wellbeing initiatives are most effective when information is easily accessible and held centrally in one place, for example through a smart phone app. 

As Howes highlights, “education is still very important, but even more so is ensuring benefits are fit for purpose. It’s practical help that is really making a difference at the moment.”

So where can employers get practical help from? Here are a few key areas that employers can tap into to help their employees:

  • EAPs and counselling services: these are often underutilised, but most offer a host of resources to support financial wellbeing, as well as the opportunity to talk to someone about individual circumstances.
  • Employers could consider running webinars/virtual drop-in clinics to give people information about what they can do now, such as:
    • mortgage holidays
    • payment holidays on credit cards and household bills
    • top tips on saving money
  • Offering bespoke webinars for particular groups of employees. For example, those approaching retirement and the actions they should take.
  • Directing people to apps and tools where they can review their finances in one place, analyse patterns of expenditure and take control of their household budget.
  • Consider introducing a hardship fund for those who are particularly in need, or offering salary advancement services.
  • Refund season ticket loans, where it’s possible to do so.
  • Highlight your benefits platforms that offer discounts on shopping and utilities.

Beyond these practical steps employers can also signpost to a range of free resources that are designed to support employee financial wellbeing:

Regardless of how an employer chooses to support their workforce, making an impactful difference is what matters to Howes, “employers need to help employees build healthier habits and financial resilience so when faced with unprecedented situations in the future employees are less vulnerable to financial stress.”

The author is Dawn Lewis, content editor at REBA.

For more on this topic, watch REBA’s webinar on the importance of looking after employees’ financial wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The expert panel, featuring senior reward professionals from BOC UK & Ireland, Microsoft and RBS, covered topics such as how the concept of financial wellbeing has adapted since the outbreak of coronavirus; the services benefits and tactics employers are offering to working and furloughed employees; workplace loans; identifying vulnerable employees; issues around communicating about financial wellbeing; and the opportunity to create savings schemes.

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