Whose responsibility is financial education? Whose job is it to ensure that people have the skills they need to manage their money properly so they don’t worry unnecessarily about their finances?
Some people might think it’s the role of government, and campaigners have long been rallying for children to be taught more about personal finance at school, while others think its ultimately down to the individual to take responsibility. Some may even think that it’s the job of employers. Whether you’re an avuncular employer or not, there is certainly a lot to be said for businesses investing in the financial wellbeing of their workforce.
Mental Health in the Workplace
Money is the trigger for lots of mental-health problems and according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), some 4.2 million worker days are lost each year due to a lack of financial wellbeing, equivalent to £626 million in lost output.1
Meanwhile, the Close Brothers Financial Wellbeing Index 2019 reported that 94% of employees aged 35 to 54 worry about money and, of those, more than three-quarters say it impacts them at work.2 That could mean employees need to spend working hours tackling their problems – on the phone to the bank, for example – or simply that their mind is elsewhere, that they aren’t motivated and can’t focus on the work you are paying them to do.
These issues aren’t the preserve of the lowest-paid workers. The Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing 2020-21 found that a third of C-Suite executives and three in ten managers have money worries. It also says that those earning £70,000 to £89,999 are likely to report the same level of financial stress as lower-paid workers earning between £10,000 and £29,999.3
According to Aegon’s Financial Wellbeing in the Workplace study, 71% of employers recognise that their workers would be happier if they weren’t worrying about money, but as they aren’t finance experts, they aren’t sure how to help. Only half of the companies surveyed said that they could offer information on managing debts, while 38% said they didn’t understand what financial resources to provide.4
So what can you, as an employer, do to improve financial wellbeing and help get your staff back to firing on all cylinders?
Often, employees don’t know where to go when they are stressed. The CEBR study found that only 7% of employers offered face-to-face counselling or access to advice from specialised staff or external consultants. However, employers are often a trusted source of guidance, and you can use that to your advantage.
By working with us, you can help build your employees’ financial wellbeing. Working together, we can boost their awareness around the issues and challenges they have – whether that’s paying off debts, buying a house or saving for retirement – giving them the financial literacy that will empower them to take action and achieve those goals. It’s about giving your staff confidence and helping them feel that they are in control of their money.
We will first assess your employee demographics. There’s no point delivering a pensions planning workshop to a young team whose fundamental goal is to get on the property ladder.
After working out their needs and priorities, we can put in place a plan that will work for your teams. This can include everything from virtual and face-to-face workshops to access to one-to-one guidance sessions and follow-ups. We can also provide relevant content for your company intranet.
Timing your message is important, as is making sure the right content is being delivered to the right people. The onboarding process provides a good opportunity to talk to new team members, helping them to understand and take advantage of any employee benefits you are providing, as well as making them feel supported in the workplace. Other good times are January, the end of the tax year and the period running up to any windows for making changes to benefits such as pensions and private medical insurance.
As life slowly returns to normal after the pandemic and workers begin returning to offices, many companies will be investing in programmes and initiatives to support that transition.
There’s a huge focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing at the moment – and rightly so – but financial wellbeing is often overlooked. By providing financial education in the workplace, you’ll be complementing initiatives you may already be offering for physical and mental health and providing more comprehensive support to staff.
1 Financial wellbeing and productivity: a study into the financial wellbeing of UK employees and its impact on productivity, Centre for Economics and Business Research, October 2018
2 Financial wellbeing index 2019, Close Brothers, March 2019 (Based on surveys conducted among 1,003 employers with 200 or more employees, and 5,003 employees from companies with 200 or more employees)
3 The Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing 2020-21, Salary Finance, November 2020
4 Financial wellbeing in the workplace, Aegon, 2018 (Based on a survey sample size of 500 HR decision-makers from a representative sample of British businesses)