7 ways to help workers navigate uncertainty and feel more financially secure
‘Unprecedented’ has become one of the most commonly used words in the last two years. Most of us have become accustomed to living with higher levels of uncertainty than we have ever experienced in our lifetimes.
Thanks to Brexit, a global pandemic and now a war in Eastern Europe, so many things – from our health and safety to seeing friends and family, from the horrific headlines to the minutiae of our day-to-day lives – have come to feel difficult to manage and beyond our control.
With rising household bills, and fuel prices and groceries becoming ever more expensive, finances are also a major concern for many of us. Government figures showed that the average UK household reduced its spending by £109.10 a week from March 2020 to September 2021. Around one-third of workers saw their household income fall in the financial year ending April 2021, rising to 42% for those on the lowest incomes.
A separate study by Forbes Adviser UK, published in October 2021, found that 29% of UK workers were worried about their family’s finances and 24% were worried about job security. In addition, 30% of the 2,000 UK workers who took part in the survey said they had sold items to get extra money.
So what can employers do to help their people navigate through the uncertainty and feel confident about their finances during this difficult time?
1. Break the taboo
Encouraging people to talk about their financial worries is one way of breaking the taboo that often surrounds them. A financial wellbeing programme which gives employees access to impartial financial advice could help to ease their concerns.
2. Lead from the top
Encouraging senior leaders to discuss their own finances, perhaps in relation to a time where they experienced hardship or financial instability or found themselves in debt, can help to break down the barriers for employees. If senior leaders speak to their management teams, hold workshops or run talks across different company channels, it can encourage struggling employees to seek support.
3. Run a diagnostic on employee finances
Carrying out a diagnostic survey to identify which employee groups are struggling with their finances can help you target and reach the employees most in need. The Close Brothers financial fitness test for example, can help assess gaps in knowledge, areas of risk and employee groups most in need of support. Some employees might be reluctant to give details, especially if they are in debt.
4. Allow for different learning styles
People learn and retain information differently. This is particularly important to know when it comes to neurodivergent employees, including those with ADHD, autism or dyslexia, who may process information in different ways. Some might prefer a face-to-face style learning environment, some might prefer to watch short videos and some might prefer to read through information in their own time. Make sure your financial wellbeing programme is provided using a variety of media.
5. Communicate regularly throughout the year
There is no point having a strong financial wellbeing programme if you don’t tell your employees about it regularly. Weave in messages about financial planning at relevant times throughout the year: for example, when your flexible benefits window opens, on Pension Awareness Day in September or during Talk Money Week in November. Signpost where people can get help, be it from their online financial wellbeing hub, a relevant event dedicated to the topic or a helpline. Remind them that these resources are there for them to use.
6. Equip your wellbeing champions
If you have wellbeing champions, give them resources to help people with finance. The last few years have highlighted the fact that our mental, physical and financial wellbeing are intricately entwined. If people are worrying about money, their mental health and wellbeing will be affected. It’s important to consider all three aspects of wellbeing holistically in order to help people with their finances and have a good working knowledge of each and how they can be tackled together.
7. Consider holding a ‘financial wellbeing week’
During this time of rising costs, general uncertainty and stretched overdrafts, many of us will be painfully aware of our finances. Dedicating time such as a ‘financial wellbeing week’ is an effective way to demonstrate your commitment to recognition of the importance of financial wellbeing within your organisation. It could include a number of topics, from budgeting to saving for a pension, with seminars and webinars and incentives to get people engaged and talking.
In partnership with Close Brothers
Close Brothers has been providing financial education services to employees of some of the UK's best known organisations for over 50 years.