The cost of living crisis is a challenging time for individuals and families but also for employers.
Whilst I applaud companies who can offer additional lump sum payments or bonuses, a wider range of support is still required to avoid the risk of it being seen as a bit of a short-term and unsustainable solution.
Most companies however, are not in a position to do this and will have to be a bit more creative when it comes to long-term financial wellbeing but don’t worry, there’s a huge amount you can do with little or no budget.
1. Review and communicate your existing money-related benefits
We’ve found that many companies have fantastic benefits but the challenge is communicating them and also connecting them to practical, real life scenarios.
An example of this could be death-in-service (life insurance) that will be an important part of an employees overall approach to protecting their family and is often misunderstood.
Utilise this time to re-enforce the benefits you do have, review what’s being used or valued, what’s not and what’s missing.
Employers have an opportunity to bring teams closer together to get through this challenging time
2. Bring your teams closer together
Some of the best feedback we’ve had from our group workshops is that employees ‘no longer feel alone’ when it comes to the cost of living crisis.
Many believe that financial wellbeing is possibly five or even 10 years behind where we are with mental health but the starting point is exactly the same.
We need to smash the stigma and break the taboos by creating open, psychologically safe and non judgmental spaces to #TalkAboutMoney.
By organising small group workshops to start talking about both the challenges and the solutions, you’ll demonstrate that your company genuinely cares about your employees feelings and also recognise that this is affecting everyone in different ways.
We talk about the fact that we’re all in the same storm but we’re not all in the same boat and employers have an opportunity to bring teams closer together to get through this challenging time.
You’ll be surprised how many solutions your employees can come up with and this can start to build a library of content and resources that can then be accessed by the whole company.
3. Use wellbeing champtions and mental health first aiders
If you have specific employees dedicated to areas of wellbeing then it’s important that you utilise them. Just as we’ve seen with the emergence of mental health first aiders, this can also include an element of ‘financial health’ too.
You can consider supporting these employees to learn how to spot the signs of poor relationships with money within their teams, how to encourage empathetic conversations around money and effectively signpost back to your growing library of benefits and resources.
It’s important that this doesn’t become a ‘have a look at the intranet’ approach and these employees have taken the time to really understand the resources that are available and even be able to share real life stories of how they have had a positive impact.
Employees want to learn at their own pace and in their own way so ensure a diverse range of content
4. Give access to education
We didn’t learn the basics around money matters at school so there was a huge need to improve our knowledge, understanding and confidence around personal finances even before the pandemic.
There are so many great resources for money education and collating those that will resonate with your people and also reflect real life stages and key events is critical.
Start to build up your trusted resources on your internal platforms, be it an intranet, hub or sharepoint and build this into your comms throughout the year and highlight specific topics and themes on certain awareness days and weeks in the wellbeing calendar.
Also consider that employees want to learn at their own pace and in their own way so ensure a diverse range of content including videos, articles, infographics, guides and podcasts.
5. Offer additional guidance and advice
Financial wellbeing can be broken down into three areas: education, guidance and advice, as employees will be at different stages of life and on their own journey.
Some may simply want and need to access educational content or attend group workshops.
Our experience has shown that others could benefit from speaking to a human being on a 1-1 basis to talk about their financial situation, ask questions and be guided and signposted to relevant resources or understand the process and options around accessing professional advice.
There are various options for this at various levels of cost including possibly utilising existing resources such as your Pension and EAP provider.
There will also be a number of your employees who could actually benefit from professional and regulated advice and it’s important that they understand the difference between advice, guidance and education.
Financial wellbeing can be broken down into three areas: education, guidance and advice
What to avoid and bear in mind
Here are three things to consider:
Following the crowd
We’ve seen with mental health and wellbeing that there can be a temptation to implement the latest popular app, tool, platform or training programme. The urge can be even stronger if you see other similar employers doing so but remember that you’re not the same as them.
It’s important to ask your employees what they want before rushing to implement the latest must have solution.
The one-size-fits-all approach
Your people are unique and this should be celebrated but also carefully considered. It’s important to understand that a wide range of content and activities will be required to ensure your approach is as diverse and inclusive as possible.
We’ve seen that there is also a need to give careful consideration to additional challenges for neurodivergent employees and what you can do to support this rapidly growing area.
Thinking short-term and not measuring impact
This is not going to be an easy fix and will require an ongoing effort to see real impact.
A one off workshop will more than likely be a waste of money and not even touch the surface and I believe access to financial education and wellbeing services will become a key employee benefit in the next few years.
As with any wellbeing initiative it’s also imperative to measure impact to review what’s working and what needs to be changed.
An example of this is our FinWELL PAWA Plan scoring system that enables employees to reflect on their own personal situation covering five elements of financial wellbeing from general confidence, relationships with money, ability to pay bills, financial resilience and future plans.
This gives employees a starting point or benchmark from which to take action and measure improvement.
What impact can really be made?
Having a long-term, diverse, inclusive and strategic approach can present employers with a fantastic opportunity with financial wellbeing over the short, medium and long term.
Here are some of the short, medium and long-term benefits this could provide your business.
- Performance and productivity
- Mental, physical and social wellbeing
- Absenteeism and presenteeism
- Equity, diversity and inclusion
- Reward and benefits
- Talent acquisition and retention
- Company culture
- Company profit
So, there you have it, we’ve covered how a diverse, inclusive, long-term, proactive and personalised approach can have a huge benefit to your people and your business and also how it doesn’t necessarily require a huge amount of budget.
If you enjoyed this, read: Financial wellbeing: five top tips to help your people through economic recovery