How to build a financial wellbeing communications strategy that gets results
Employee wellbeing is crucial for an engaged workforce. Yet, despite the cost of living rising sharply since late 2021, one-in-eight workers in the UK experiencing in-work poverty, and the well-known link between financial wellbeing and mental health, financial wellbeing is the least common area covered in wellbeing strategies.
As high inflation squeezes wages, more employees are making use of employee assistance programmes (EAPs). But employers seeing increased return on investment in their EAP cannot be complacent. About 4.2 million worker days each year are lost in absences because of a lack of financial wellbeing. And it impacts engagement, performance and productivity too.
Financial wellbeing is not a tick-box exercise nor the sole responsibility of your reward team. Like all aspects of wellbeing, it is part of your organisational culture and employee value proposition. Everyone, from senior leaders to managers and employee networks, must be onboard if your organisation is to meet its financial wellbeing objectives – and that means involving communications experts from the start.
Tip 1: Get buy-in from senior leaders
Your senior leaders set the tone for the organisation. You need their buy-in to establish a culture of trust to encourage open and honest conversations about financial wellbeing. Support leaders to be advocates for financial wellbeing, signalling its importance to managers and employees.
Tip 2: Listen first
Data will only get you so far. You can make assumptions about employees based on their age, or salary, but it won’t tell you whether a part-time employee is the sole wage earner or a second jobber.
To understand your employees’ barriers to financial wellbeing, ask them. Advise stakeholders on appropriate listening tools such as focus groups – and the risk of survey fatigue – as well as who should own the message.
Maintain a drumbeat of communications from senior leaders and managers. This will encourage engagement and reassure employees these are psychologically safe spaces and that your organisation cares – that financial wellbeing, and employee wellbeing in general, is not just an initiative but a cultural shift.
It’s important that all voices are heard, so target different audiences through their preferred channels and formats – from e-newsletters to posters and team meetings.
Tip 3: Decide next steps – together
Bring together stakeholders including reward, L&D, and DEI, to develop a financial wellbeing strategy that embeds change at all levels. Compare your current offer with what employees want/need and consider the different types of communication – education, guidance, coaching and advice – to help employees. Andreas Hunter from Buck, which, like Caburn Hope, is a Gallagher company, wrote about that here.
Implementing this strategy will take time, but share what you’ve learned, and what happens next, in a timely way. This is so employees feel listened to, and those whose views have not been captured are encouraged to speak up.
Include short-term remedies as well as long-term solutions. For example, if your discovery has uncovered knowledge gaps about existing support, include actions to improve access. Signpost to internal or external support for those with more immediate and/or complex needs. Tell employees about the changes they can expect to see – and why.
Tip 4: Continue the conversation
Make financial wellbeing an ongoing conversation, at all levels, to embed wellbeing into your culture. Align with stakeholders such as L&D and DEI to develop champions and give managers the confidence – and permission – to talk about financial wellbeing at employee check-ins. Work with your L&D and legal teams to make sure any knowledge, skills or tools shared do not constitute financial advice.
Review how you communicate pay, reward, benefits and career development at all stages of the employee lifecycle. Raise awareness through targeted communications for different demographic groups – for example, those at the start of their working life and those looking to retire. Make financial wellbeing part of your internal news cycle through storytelling linked to calendar/topical events such as interest rate rises. Work with stakeholders to measure success, and adapt and evolve.
Money talks, communication connects
Your communications strategy must bring together stakeholders, connect leadership to employees, and signpost employees to support. By listening, sharing knowledge and changing behaviours, you can implement change at every level, and at each stage of the employee lifecycle, so that financial wellbeing becomes embedded in your organisational culture.
Find out more about how Caburn Hope can help you to develop a successful financial wellbeing communication campaign.
In partnership with Buck
Buck is a global, integrated HR consulting, benefits administration & technology services provider.