Money concerns are one of the biggest causes of stress.
PwC’s 2017 ‘Employee financial wellness survey’ found that 53% of employees are stressed about their finances.
Smart companies are recognising that being financially stable is an acute need for their workers.
In fact, in a Barclays survey, 38% of employees said they would move to a company that puts financial wellbeing as a priority.
Importantly, the study also found that one in five employees want financial guidance from their employer.
Traditionally, the thought of an employer getting involved with workers’ financial concerns would be a HR or People team’s nightmare, but employees are increasingly turning to their place of work for help and guidance.
So, companies that value their people and put them first should think about ways they can support employees in this area.
Supporting employees financially
There’s two things to consider, though, before we look at the ways in which companies can support employees financially.
Firstly, it’s not about the perks – but showing your workforce you care and value them.
When we spoke to 3,500 employees across the globe about what really makes them productive, one of the most overwhelming things that stood out was that they valued a great workforce experience (78%) and being valued and recognised (66%) over perks.
Consider whether you’re offering just perks – or something your workforce will really value you providing.
Secondly, if you want to consider ways to support employees’ financial wellbeing, the first thing to do is ask them.
Just 12% of employees we spoke to are asked on a regular basis what would improve their experiences at work. Almost half (47%) had never been asked at all.
Once you’ve done that, here’s six things to think about as an employer to support employees’ financial wellbeing.
1. Money management advice
One in five workers said they would value broader financial guidance, debt management and counselling if they were in financial hardship, according to Barclays.
Companies could consider offering money management guidance, debt counselling, and coaching on debt consolidation.
If you don’t have the skills in-house to provide this information, there are money management service providers that offer tailored programmes aimed at employees.
Liz Young, HR Director at Unum, also suggests introducing employee assistance programmes for those who may need more advanced support.
Writing for HR Zone, she says these offer direct, confidential contact with experts who can support individuals with areas causing emotional distress, including money troubles.
2. Salary sacrifice schemes
The rules around salary sacrifice schemes in the UK changed in 2017 meaning things such as company cars, work-related training, mobile phones and gym membership could no longer be offered under a salary sacrifice scheme.
However, pension contributions, cycle-to-work schemes and ultra low-emission vehicles are all valid under the salary sacrifice rules, so don’t overlook offering these tax-friendly incentive schemes to your employees in the UK.
3. Employee discount schemes
There are a range of loyalty and rewards schemes employers can register with to enable employees to receive discounts on goods and services when they shop online through the scheme.
Free or discounted membership to a local warehouse club, such as Costco – where people can buy household items in bulk – also provide financial perks for employees.
Remember, though, workers value a great workforce experience over perks such as these.
So, if you’re considering investing in employee discount schemes, do your research first by asking your people if they’d value support such as this or if they’d appreciate you investing elsewhere as an employee in alternative ways to build a better workforce experience for them.
In Ireland, auto enrolment rules are on the horizon, meaning that in the future, employers will be required by law to provide their employees with a workplace pension.
However, you don’t need to wait until auto enrolment is implemented to offer pensions to your workforce.
If you want to stand out from the competition, you could consider offering a private pension to your employees.
And while you’re at it, try offering pensions advice so your employees, particularly millennials and Generation Z, understand the benefits of investing in their retirement at an early age.
5. Loans and saving schemes
Almost 50% of employees are not putting money aside for anything beyond regular bills, research by the Social Market Foundation and Neyber reveals. The study also shows that one-third of workers have no savings or investments.
Offering a workplace savings plan, such as a corporate ISA, can kick-start someone’s saving mentality and help them to build a financial safety net.
Anglian Water offers a loyalty savings scheme to encourage employees to save for the short term, with payments coming directly out of pay.
The scheme is also linked to the company’s business objectives, which, if met, means employees receive a bonus on top of their saving.
As part of its overall financial wellbeing strategy, Anglian Water has rolled out a loan scheme after trialling it initially with 500 employees.
After the pilot ended, 82% said that they valued it and 52% said they would consider using it in the future.
It comes down to providing a great workforce experience
For most people, money equals security and freedom. When people aren’t on top of their finances, it can cause anxiety, stress, insomnia and other wellbeing issues that have a direct impact on someone’s ability to function at their usual capacity at work.
If you’re looking for a differentiator to make your business stand out from the competition in the war on talent, then offering assistance to your employees to be financially secure is one way to do so.
Remember, though, employees value a great workforce experience more than perks – so make sure you’re getting value from support you’re offering in more than the financial sense.
If you’re not sure if these are areas workers would value support in, then why not ask them?