Financial wellness is all about being in a good place with yourself where you’re spending and saving money thoughtfully and where your behaviours and views around personal finance contribute positively to your long and short-term goals.
It also means having peace of mind so that, when an unexpected bill comes along, you won’t be caught out.
As the average Briton spends 84,365 hours working in their lifetime, it’s imperative that financial wellbeing is promoted in the workplace. And if financial wellbeing is not great, then this is going to impact your working day.
However, research shows that, although 65% of employees say that financial wellness in the workplace is really important to them, just 7% of employers actually provide any sort of support.
Consider the seven ways that you can help your employees with their financial wellbeing, while alleviating some of the stress that comes with living in the 21st Century.
Knowledge is key
For many people, money means security, freedom and peace of mind, so it’s unsurprising that financial struggles can often lead to stress, anxiety, insomnia and other related issues, which have a direct impact on someone’s ability to function at work.
Consider offering up access to financial advice in the workplace, whether this is a safe space for your employees to discuss their financial situations and work out what’s best for them, or a hub of useful information – such as guides, online tools, webinars – that they can access if, and when, they want.
Ask the questions
“Do I know what my employees are worried about? Debt? Mortgage? Pension”
Things that you think will be beneficial to your employees may not actually be right for them. Ask your employees what they think would improve their financial health. Listen to them and consider their input.
Talk to them about the benefits packages on offer and if they work well. Your aim here is to improve the workplace experience and, by doing this, you are showing employees that you value and care for them. It's simple really. Listen, then act upon what you hear.
Research by Aegon found that nearly 40% of people in the UK are worried about their ability to retire comfortably, with many having no idea how much they are saving into their pension.
Good news for workers is that the employer’s pension contribution has risen to a minimum of 3%. This isn’t massive, but will help in the long run.
You, the employer, can help further ease this worry. Consider offering higher employer contributions than the required minimum, along with an offer of pensions advice to help with understanding of the benefits of investing in a pension plan, this is especially important for younger workers, many of whom may feel that saving for retirement – something that seems so far away – is unnecessary. Some refer to this as a 'live for the now' mentality...or is it just about enjoying your youth?! I can't remember!
Workplace savings do not stop at pension packs – many companies are now offering other tax-efficient saving and investment options.
Research has revealed that one third of UK workers have no savings or investments and one in 20 said they would struggle to last a week without being paid should they lose their job or become ill. Schemes like this can really help to kick-start someone’s saving and help them to build a financial safety net. Again - listen and hear what is important to your own employee population. Make it relevant.
Salary sacrifice schemes
Salary sacrifice is when an employee agrees to exchange part of his or her salary in order to get extra benefits from their employer. These can be a great plus for your employees, so definitely worth considering offering these up. They also mean that you, as an employer, may benefit from paying less in NIC tax as your employees are (theoretically) earning less money, so it’s a win on both parties.
It’s important to note here that, in 2017, the Government changed rules around salary sacrifice schemes in the UK, excluding things like company cars, work-related training, mobile phones and gym membership. However, the following are still valid under the scheme’s rules and can be offered as tax-friendly incentive schemes: pensions (including advice), childcare, cycle-to-work schemes and ultra low-emission cars.
You can find out more about how to set these up, and what they mean to you as as an employer, here.
Through little expense to the employer, offering a discount and reward scheme to your employees can be a great way to build relationships and ease the pinch of rising living costs.
There are a range of loyalty and rewards schemes employers can register with which give employees access to a whole load of discounts on goods and services online. It’s also worth exploring the area around your office, as many shops and restaurants offer discounts to those working locally. Everybody loves a bargain!
It’s not all about workplace perks – and we get that. But, increasingly, job seekers are looking for careers that benefit both their working and non-working lives, so it’s worth considering what you can do here too. You also want to show that you care about them so, by easing the financial worry that day-to-day activities often bring, you can do that.
Work perks and benefits to consider are: gym memberships / fitness classes, healthcare plans, refreshments/lunch, mentoring, wellness activities, flexible working hours, personal care services and volunteer time exchange.
By implementing some of these, you put your company well ahead of the competition for talent acquisition in your area by showing your employee value proposition is targeted at aiding the financial (and mental) wellbeing of your employees. Not only will this make for a happier and healthier workplace, but will also help with productivity levels and staff retention in the long run.
Ultimately, like everything in life, understanding starts with empathy.