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31 Mar 2023

Employers’ debt management support is poor – survey

Research by REBA and Wealth at Work reveals that organisations believe they need to offer better financial benefits to employees during the cost-of-living crisis

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Employers face renewed pressure to rethink their workplace financial support packages in light of research that reveals that two-thirds (66%) of organisations rate their workplace debt management support as poor, despite claims that Britons are living through the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.

Half (50%) of respondents also believe their organisation is poor at supporting employees with budgeting and money management and 63% feel their efforts to help employees build a financial safety net is also poor, according to the Financial Wellbeing Research 2022 survey by The Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) in association with WEALTH at work.

REBA’s research also found that pensions and insurances continue to dominate the focus of many organisations and their financial support packages. This helps to explain why most (76%) of respondents consider their retirement saving support as ‘very good’ or ‘fair’.

Further, 63% of organisations across the board do not offer access to financial advice, 62% do not offer access to financial coaching and 24% do not offer support for financial emergencies.

Employers to focus on helping employees

But, encouragingly, more than two-thirds (70%) of employers want to prioritise increasing financial capability in the next two years, 34% plan to offer a financial education programme, almost one-quarter (23%) plan to fund guidance on budgeting and general money management and 22% plan to fund guidance on financial emergencies in the same period.

Jonathan Watts Lay, director, WEALTH at work, says: “The research highlights the need for employers to review their workplace financial support packages and assess the extent to which they can help employees through the current economic challenges by making their pay stretch further.”

He adds: “Employers can start by looking beyond their pensions and insurances, which continue to dominate the focus of many organisations.

“Diversified financial support packages include offering benefits such as a range of savings schemes to build financial resilience, discount schemes (eg money off grocery shopping), help with financial planning, including debt support, and salary sacrifice schemes to help reduce costs for travel, mobile phones, gym passes and health and dental care.

“It is important that any scheme is explained properly to staff so they understand how it works.”

Watts-Lay added: “Financial education and guidance delivered in the workplace can really help members understand the benefits on offer and should also cover topics such as how to budget, tips for saving money and debt management.

“With the cost-of-living crisis hitting many hard, supporting employees to build their financial resilience and improve their financial wellbeing is of the utmost importance right now.”

The REBA/WEALTH at Work Employee Financial Wellbeing Survey 2022 was carried out online between April and May 2022. Responses were received from 289 wellbeing, HR and employee benefits specialists, representing around 1 million employees, from  organisations of various sizes and across a broad range of industry sectors.

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In partnership with WEALTH at work

WEALTH at work is a leading financial wellbeing and retirement specialist - helping those in the workplace to improve their financial future.

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