Ways to use your employee benefits platform to support financial wellbeing
Financial wellbeing has been rising up the corporate agenda in recent years. Household debts in the UK are at a record high of £119 billion, according to December 2019 Office for National Statistics figures, meaning that a large proportion of the working population is concerned about making ends meet. Since financial worries can stop employees performing at their best, employers have an interest in helping their people make healthy financial choices and habits.
Deborah Frost, chief executive at Personal Group, is speaking at REBA's Employee Wellbeing Congress on 16 September. Her session is entitled: Creating your wellbeing dashboard – which strategic levers should you pull.
Why you should use your existing employee benefits platform to deliver financial wellbeing:
- Employees are already familiar with the system and used to accessing it on their computer or smartphone, leading to higher engagement levels.
- It’s important that financial wellbeing feels part of an integrated benefits offer, not a bolted-on afterthought. By making your benefits platform a one-stop shop, employees know where to turn for support and feel the full value of working at your organisation.
- It makes it easier for employees to join up different services for a more effective outcome. For example, an employee struggling with money worries can speak to a counsellor through an employee assistance programme (EAP), save money on essentials and review their monthly budget – all in the same place.
Education and advice
Employees need appropriate information, education and advice in order to help them achieve good outcomes from their decisions to save, spend and borrow. This can be anything from how to decode their payslip to understanding how to save for retirement.
Employers can help their staff through signposting them to relevant guidance, information and support, as well as providing this themselves, either directly and/or through a trusted partner. Using an employee benefits platform is an easy way for employees to reach all the relevant information – for example, joining an educational webinar on their phone.
There is a wealth of financial advice available via the internet, which is good, but so much information to sift through can feel overwhelming. It helps to have guidance come from one trusted source, i.e. an employer – ideally in a format that makes the advice easy to digest and act on.
Usually this is delivered through an EAP, a confidential service that enables employers to help staff with personal or workplace issues that might be impacting their performance, wellbeing or mental and physical health.
When it comes to financial wellbeing, an EAP is a useful resource. It provides a one-stop shop for employees to access debt counselling, financial advice and more.
Many EAP providers have links to charities or government organisations, and users can access calculators for credit card debt, pensions and money health checks. They may also offer advice on housing issues like mortgages and tenancy agreements. What’s more, the phone line can be extremely valuable to employees whose money worries are affecting their mental health but don’t feel able to confide in a friend or family member.
Available from a wide range of major retailers, these enable employees to save money on everything from grocery shopping to luxury brands. And with discount codes downloading direct to employees’ phones, it’s a simple way for employers to help make everyday life more affordable.
Wage streaming and flexible pay
This gives employees access to a portion of their wages as soon as they have worked the hours, rather than waiting until the end of the monthly pay cycle. The idea is to alleviate cash flow problems along with the resultant financial stress and potential for going into debt. For example, having to meet an unexpected expense mid-month could mean many resort to a payday lender with sky-high interest rates.
Accessing wages before payday gives employees a higher sense of control over their cash flow and budgets. As an employer, you set a limit on how much of their pay packet staff can stream per month – usually this is around 30% to 40%.
This benefit works well for employers with shift workers. Providers also offer fintech-enabled features like wage tracking (visibility of earnings in real time) and gamified savings accounts to encourage financial resilience.
Using your employee benefits platform is the best way to ensure financial wellbeing benefits reach those who need them. Linking up your offering helps employees see how different services can work together to achieve the best outcome.
This article is provided by Personal Group.
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