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26 Feb 2024
by Alison Dell

Four steps to creating an engaging financial wellbeing strategy

Ongoing cost of living challenges mean financial concern is starting to feel like the norm, with financial resilience notably affected. Employers can play a pivotal role in shaping employee financial resilience

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Financial anxiety is a big cost to businesses: it can lead to employee absence and lower productivity. But employers can foster financial resilience in their workforce by implementing a holistic financial wellbeing strategy.

Clare Stinton, Head of Workplace Saving Analysis at HL, stresses the importance of combining workplace benefits with an effective financial wellbeing strategy to improve financial resilience.

She says; “Typically, larger employers will offer a more comprehensive benefits package and wider workplace financial education. This really helps to plug gaps in employee financial safety nets, without people having to put their hands into their own pockets, particularly when money for many is tight.”

“According to our nationwide Barometer research, 44% of households where the main earner works for a large private-sector employer have ‘great’ financial resilience. This is compared with 28% of those working at small and medium-sized enterprises, and just 14% of self-employed households.”  

“This suggests that a good financial wellbeing strategy – combined with workplace benefits – can contribute towards a more financially confident and content workforce.” 

Here are some top tips for implementing an engaging financial wellbeing strategy in the workplace.

1. Communicate clearly

Having a financial wellbeing strategy is futile if your employees don’t know about it. So how you communicate the strategy is really important. 

The key is to deliver short, snappy messages that are jargon-free and easy to understand for every employee. It encourages your workforce to engage, as they’re not put off by overwhelming messaging they can’t relate to. 

It’s a good idea to use a variety of media such as emails, intranet posts or user-friendly infographics. By recognising that not every employee will engage with the content in the same way, you increase the chance of capturing their attention.

Offering free food is another way of drumming up interest. Something as simple as a complimentary cake or slice of pizza invites people to get involved and learn more, with the ultimate goal of continued engagement as different sessions are rolled out. It may mean a slightly higher initial budget, but it will be less costly than having limited numbers turn up to your session. 

2. Listen to your workforce

It’s important to recognise that financial resilience isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Your employees will have their attention piqued by different topics and at different times in life. So get their buy-in from day one by asking what they’d like to hear about.

An easy, low-cost way to do this is to send out a survey. Don’t overcomplicate it – keep it short and use the data readily available to you. Ask your employees what they want to hear about over the coming months. Provide some suggestions to get them started, like saving for a house deposit, retirement options or how to budget effectively. 

You could then use employee responses to create a tailor-made strategy with which they’re far more likely to engage. 

It’s also a good opportunity to find out if your employees’ workplace benefits still fit their needs. The cost-of-living crisis may have affected their milestones or their workplace pension contributions, so it’s worth adding a question about benefits on the survey to get an accurate picture of what your workforce needs from you. 

And benefit providers may already offer financial wellbeing material or sessions, so you may readily have the opportunity within your remit – you just haven’t accessed it yet.

3. Be in it together 

Make sure you’re not going against the tide with your strategy by ensuring stakeholders are engaged with and aware of it. Speak to middle management to allow employees to take time out of their diaries to attend sessions or workshops. 

To encourage their teams to take part, managers should also play a role in flagging the surveys and sessions to them. They could perhaps run a team meeting focused on the financial wellbeing offering, or schedule a specific time in the day for colleagues to fill in the survey to improve response rate. 

Make sure you keep financial wellbeing discussions current. Communications should be clear, consistent and regular, rather a one-off email packed with information. It’s important to provide employees with ongoing support. 

4. Financial wellbeing isn’t exclusive 

If you work in a smaller company, a financial wellbeing strategy might feel too much of a stretch, perhaps due to a limited budget. 

But you can still play a role in shaping the financial resilience of your employees by piggybacking on national campaigns, like Pension Wise, National Pension Tracing Day or Talk Money Week. A lot of the work will be done, as regulated content is created – you just need to communicate it to your workforce. But make sure you do your due diligence on sources before signposting. 

It’s still a good idea to understand what your employees want to learn about. But instead of starting from scratch and creating your own strategy and resources, you could perhaps curate an email series that links to requested topics. There are plenty of assets from regulated companies that you can signpost to your employees in different ways. 

No company is too small to have a duty of care towards the financial wellbeing of their workforce. So it’s important to make sure you’re providing the right support, at the right time, in the right way. 

This article is not personal advice. If you are unsure of a course of action, please ask about advice. 

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