Video tutorial: The Co-operative Group’s Alex Henley on financial wellbeing for a diverse workforce

With 63,000 colleagues in total, 45,000 of whom are spread across 2,600 plus stores and the remainder who work in roles from logistics to funeral homes and legal services, The Co-operative Group has a large and diverse workforce. Communicating a financial wellbeing strategy to such staff therefore is no easy challenge.

“We are a number of different businesses,” Alex Henley, pensions technical officer at The Co-operative Group, in association with Neyber, told delegates at the REBA FinWell Forum as he presented a case study on what the business had done.

He said the business faced a number of challenges – including the fact that there are many part time staff in the business, that they are paid less as a result (80% earn less than £20k PA) and the majority of whom aren’t online at work. “A lot of people are also the second income in their families so we can’t look at what we are paying people and make assumptions about the type of home life they have and what they need,” he said.

He said health and wellbeing and financial wellbeing is key to engaging staff and showing them the business cares – since that can’t just be done through pay. Henley said the company re-examined what it did in the financial wellbeing space and found that although it had features such as cycle to work, season ticket loans and rent deposit schemes other things were missing. “The knowledge and education, the tools, the budgeting, the stuff that pulls all of this together wasn’t there. None of it had been presented to colleagues as financial wellbeing but as bits of a benefits package or as something else."

As a result the company launched Neyber to introduce those tools as well as introducing other initiatives such as a new EAP service, new pensions modelling tools and the promotion of savings options.

However he said the business had also learnt the challenge of financial wellbeing for the company’s staff. “Financial wellbeing is a very long journey. We have a lot of staff who are very financially stressed. It’s going to take time. If we help colleagues plan for today and build resilience for tomorrow then over time we will get them to a better place to think longer term." 

This video was recorded at the REBA FinWell Forum, held in London on 7 March 2019.

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