Employees’ financial wellbeing is as important to an employer as the employee themself. If employees are worried about finances, this can severely impact their concentration and performance. Money matters will be on many employees’ minds at the moment. February ONS data showed there were mounting worries about the cost of living, and now there’s the additional likelihood of further price increases due to the war in Ukraine. If unmanaged, employees’ financial wellbeing can lead to money anxieties and potentially time off work to try to sort out problems.
Are there any steps you can take to support your employees’ financial wellbeing?
Obviously, there’s only so much you can do. Very few companies will be in a position to ease the pressure by offering huge pay increases. But while employers can’t give financial advice to their employees, they can provide support (including providing access to financial advice). Many large companies have comprehensive financial wellbeing policies but that’s less likely in smaller companies. Even as an SME however, there are some possibilities you could explore to provide practical support both now and longer term too. Here are some suggestions about the kind of support you might want to offer.
Immediate support for your employees’ financial wellbeing
There are several services available that offer free advice to people with financial worries, but a lot of people won’t be aware of that. So why not support your employees’ financial wellbeing and signpost them to the advice that’s available.
One excellent source of information is the Money and Pensions Service, and specifically, its Money Helper website which provides advice on a range of areas such as debt guidance, managing rising energy bills and budgeting. As the employer, you might also want to take a look at the section of its website dedicated to improving financial wellbeing in the workplace. It offers free resources for employers to use to help their employees, including online budgeting and saving and retirement modellers and calculators. Highlight other forms of support available too; both Citizens Advice and specialist debt charities offer free help to anyone who’s struggling. The Money Saving Expert website is another handy resource to promote as well.
Why not remind employees about ways they can cut back on costs too? It can be really simple, such as getting in the habit of making online purchases through cashback websites and using comparison sites to make sure they’re getting the most for their money.
Support for the medium term
Help with some financial education
Your employees might not feel comfortable discussing their financial problems with you. But you could consider providing some form of generic financial education to help employees learn more about how they can help themselves without having to talk about their own personal circumstances.
There are all kinds of courses you could set up on various subjects like budgeting, debt reduction, and retirement and pension planning. You don’t necessarily need to arrange full-blown face-to-face events either – maybe dedicate a webpage to it or send out links to courses and webinars via email, and provide some company time for employees to complete them.
Encourage saving habits
While a conversation about saving might not be appreciated right now, current circumstances do underline the importance of having some money put aside for sudden unexpected events or financial costs. So it might be worth looking at whether you could offer a workplace saving scheme. There are a few ways you could do it, including workplace ISAs and Save As You Earn (SAYE). We all know how easy it is for money to disappear once it’s in our bank accounts but this approach deducts through the payroll and helps employees adopt positive habits when it comes to building up a bit of a financial safety net.
Can you adjust your company’s benefits?
It’s worth reviewing what you have on offer in case there are any low-cost things you could do that would support employees’ financial wellbeing. Are there any flexible benefits you could provide that would give employees discounts and savings perhaps? What about salary sacrifice schemes, where employees can opt to exchange part of their income for specific benefits to reduce the amount of tax and national insurance they pay while getting the services they need? While the schemes don’t provide the level of flexibility and incentive they once did, there are still good savings to be had for things like childcare support.
Make sure you’re telling employees about what’s available
Financially it’s a difficult time for many people, so it’s definitely worth having a think about whether you can do something to support your employees’ financial wellbeing. But remember that efforts to put support in place could be undermined by limited communication about what’s available. So whichever options you decide to go for, be proactive in telling employees how they can go about accessing them.