How do you know what your employees need?

You might think you’re doing a great job looking after the wellbeing of your employees – you offer good benefits, flexible working and even healthcare, but what about their financial wellbeing? Do you know anything about the financial pressures and struggles that your employees face? Employers that are considered to be socially responsible and ones that people want to work for are the ones that prioritise engagement. But you can’t just ask your employees whether they have problems with debt – they don’t want you to know they have a shopping addiction and seven credit cards. You can’t go prying into their lives outside of work, but you can provide them with information and ask if they would be interested in financial education. The key to engagement is communication. The fact is that you don’t know what they want, so the best way to start is with general or holistic financial education – give them a good foundation and then build on it.

So, how can you find out what financial concerns your employees have without prying?

You could use anonymous surveys to find out how happy your employees are, how engaged they feel and include some questions to get a sense of whether they’re looking for more help from you. You might think you know your employees are at that age where they’re settling down and buying a house, so you could choose specific education on these topics for them. Or you could provide holistic education and ask for feedback on the things they want to know more about or need more help with and then continue to provide new education, and most importantly, continue to ask what they want.

How do you offer everyone what they want?

From our experience we know that individuals of any age can have problems with their finances: just because you have a mortgage doesn’t automatically make you are a responsible adult who is good with money. So it is important to make financial education open to everyone and anyone who feels they need it. It is also important to communicate to your people that you won’t be involved in the education workshops – they need to know that they are being provided with a safe environment in which to air their concerns without feeling like their boss is watching over them.

How do you go about choosing a provider?

If you know what type of education you want to offer to your employees, then it makes sense to look to a provider who has proven experience in that field. It's also a good idea to shop around and ask different providers what they can offer you; a good provider will know that any education programme should be tailored to the culture and style of your business to be most effective. You need a provider who is prepared to consult with you and maintain a relationship to assess further needs once initial phases of education are finished. You also need to think about presenting the case for financial education in the workplace to your board; you need to convince them that it is worthwhile, which means you need to believe that it is.

How can you ensure you’ve planned to maintain communication?

A one-off workshop isn’t going to make you employer of the year though; you need to make sure you maintain communication with your employees. One way to do this is via feedback from your workshops and a continued relationship with your education provider. You can work together with your provider to formulate a plan to provide ongoing education for your employees. Finally, you need to ask your employees – maybe not directly, but via surveys or informal feedback through emails – they need to know that they matter to your organisation, that they are valued and that their opinion counts.