The current cost of living crisis is generating plenty of discussion about how employer could or should be helping employees more financially. Whilst short-term measures such as cost of living bonuses can provide a useful injection of support, developing a wider financial wellbeing strategy can also include longer term measures to support employees in managing their finances better and achieving their financial goals.
What does financial wellbeing mean?
The current focus on financial difficulty means financial wellbeing can be seen as helping manage a money-related crisis, deal with debt, or helping with essential bills. But a good longer-term financial wellbeing strategy will help not only deal with crises and financial hardship, but will also help the entire workforce benefit, supporting them identify and achieve their individual financial goals.
Financial wellbeing is about being efficient with money and making it go further, budgeting, avoiding debt, building savings and investments, and planning for the future. Those things can apply to the whole workforce, and on a long term basis, meaning your financial wellbeing strategy is something everyone can benefit from.
What should you include in a financial wellbeing strategy?
A financial wellbeing strategy can be kept simple and straightforward by keeping to two broad categories of things to include.
1. Pay and benefits
This category is likely to be largely things you are already doing. Under ‘pay’ you should include commitments to paying fairly and without discrimination, regular reviews, transparency, and also if you have signed up to the Real Living Wage, or plan to, a commitment to that.
Benefits may be simply things you are already offering, and the chances are that you can make a significant impact on financial wellbeing simply by communicating better about the benefits you already offer. You may find many employees simply aren’t aware of them, don’t know how best to use them, or have forgotten they exist.
As part of developing your financial wellbeing strategy, gather together comprehensive information about everything you already offer – discounts, voucher schemes, insurances, everything. Review it and consider whether there is anything further you could offer to support financial wellbeing, any additional discounts you could negotiate, or whether there is a need for a change in provider for anything. Don’t just consider the immediate cost of living crisis, think about longer-term benefits too, such as life insurance or income protection.
Once you’ve identified all the benefits you offer, and organised anything further you want to offer, you can put everything together in one place. This way, all your financial benefits are being brought together in a joined-up way, making them more likely to be utilised and ensuring more employees feel the benefit of what is on offer.
Then plan to communicate all of this to the workforce in whichever way you feel would best suit them. Team meetings, newsletters, town halls, notice boards – whichever communication methods tend to work well for your team. Include pension too – despite auto-enrolment there may be employees who aren’t currently in the pension scheme because they’ve previously opted out, and would like to opt in now.
2. Education and support
The other strand of a simple financial wellbeing strategy is around education and support rather than actual money and benefits. Education can come in the form of organised seminars on financial matters, such as budgeting or debt management, delivered either by external speakers or by colleagues. If you have external companies provide benefits you offer, they will often be happy to send someone to do a talk on that particular benefit, explaining how it works and encouraging take-up.
As well as in-person education, your strategy could also include signposting to external resources, such as budgeting apps or sources of government or charity support. You could circulate general guidance on managing finances, and about the types of financial products that employees might want to explore, being careful not to stray into anything that resembles giving individual financial advice.
Keeping up the momentum can help maintain interest in financial wellbeing, so consider a regular short financial tip as part of any regular company-wide communication that takes place, or spotlight different benefits each month on the intranet.
Developing a culture where talking about financial wellbeing is encouraged can help not only ensure employees have access to resources to support their financial needs, but can also reduce the stigma around financial difficulties. Being in debt or struggling to pay bills can be enormously stressful. Feeling able to talk about it can be extremely valuable, and has the added side benefit of reducing the likelihood of financial problems resulting in stress-related sickness absence.
If you’d like some help developing a financial wellbeing strategy to support your team, do get in touch.