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01 Nov 2018
by James Biggs

Why financial wellbeing is important to staff retention

“Customers don’t come first, your workforce does” – Richard Branson (paraphrased by me).

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As an avid user of LinkedIn, I see regular quotes from the blond-bearded maestro, and often smile, but I simply can’t get that one out of my head. 

I then saw Simon Sinek’s TED talk about laying off your employees during tough times, where he berates CEOs for taking such drastic action. During the presentation this question was posed, ‘if you go through tough times in your family, would you lay one of them off?’.

Wellbeing and staff retention

My first action here is to rant a little about staff retention. It’s so important for people to feel secure in what they are doing. My strong belief is that loyalty to, and a sense of security amongst, employees will only improve your business at every level. It pains me to see round after round of cuts in some sectors, when maybe more thought could be deployed in how to keep everyone. 

Someone was kind enough to say to me the other day, “James, your biggest strength is your biggest weakness – you are too nice!” In my opinion, if the day comes when being nice is wrong, that’s the day we should all turn off the lights...being nice doesn’t have to mean being stupid or uncommercial, it should just be how we all are, and it can serve your business well.

The wellbeing of your workforce is therefore central in my mind. This obviously encompasses physical, mental and financial wellbeing, as the very best employers have a strategy for all three pillars. However, many years in this industry allow me to conclude that financial wellbeing is still very much the poor cousin in the overall wellbeing strategy of most companies, and rarely has any allocated budget. For example, Lorica workplace pensions and wellbeing research (2018) shows:

  • Just 13 per cent of employers believe it is their responsibility to provide financial education for their employees
  • Whereas 61 per cent provide specific support for employees with mental health issues, (which is a huge and laudable step forward on the mental wellbeing side, by the way).

Given that our emotional wellbeing is often directly linked to our financial wellbeing, we really need to close the gap between these two. Many employers are beginning to see the value of financial wellbeing support though; the next hurdle is gaining budget for it as our research found:

  • More than 80 per cent of employers believe their employees would value and benefit from financial advice
  • Only 33 per cent would have the appetite to pay for it.

Not paying for individual advice is fair enough, but employers can and should be providing financial education and wellbeing support. With more than one in three UK employees regularly considering quitting their job and two-thirds believing they are less productive due to poor wellbeing (CABA, 2018), the evidence speaks for itself – wellbeing, staff productivity and staff retention are intrinsically linked.

Employees say financial wellbeing support makes a difference

Our own activity, totally proves that there is a ferocious appetite for financial wellbeing support. Our sessions on the basics of financial planning are by far the most in demand. To date feedback has shown that 100 per cent of attendees state:

  1. They believe this type of financial wellbeing support should be given in the workplace.
  2. They want more similar support.
  3. Their knowledge has improved.

Comments such as, ‘I have picked up some real and meaningful tips here and will make some changes to how I run my finances’, are a sign of a valued benefit. And an engaged employee that values their benefits is much more likely to be a loyal employee.

Financial wellbeing support isn’t just for those with money shortage issues either. Being caught out by the ever-changing personal taxation position – the pensions allowance for example – also causes grief and stress for employees. Your approach has to help employees at every income level across the business – everyone counts, or nobody counts.

Staff retention is obviously extremely important. Financial wellbeing should be important and an integral part of the overall wellbeing strategy deployed at all companies. This in turn will undeniably help you retain your employees.

Let’s see all CEOs acting like the award-winning CEO, Peter Simpson at Anglian Water, who said “for every £1 I spend on wellbeing, I can see an £8 return”.  I would definitely want to work for that guy! Let’s see real budget being spent across the entire wellbeing strategy. And finally, let’s see financial wellbeing getting budget for meaningful ongoing deployment in companies across the UK.

The author is James Biggs, consulting and wellbeing director at Lorica.

This article was provided by Lorica.

In partnership with Lorica Workplace

Lorica has one simple aim: to help people develop a healthy relationship with money.

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