Employee Financial Wellbeing

As an employer, you might think that in paying a fair salary you’re doing your bit to support the financial wellbeing of your employees. But research by MetLife uncovering the scale of employees’ financial worries and its impact on their work might make you think again [1]:

  • 8.2m adults live with debt problems
  • 39% of employees said they are living payday to payday
  • 1 in 3 employees had unexpected time off in the last year to handle financial issues
  • 54% of 18 to 30 year olds are distracted at work due to financial worries (34% of workers overall)
  • Lost productivity from employee financial worries hits profits by 4%

Auto-enrolment legislation has gone some way towards helping individuals get their finances under control, in particular the adequacy of retirement saving. But this provision for the future does little to resolve current and often more pressing financial concerns. Financial stress results in decreased productivity and focus, so in protecting staff from financial stress you are also protecting the bottom line, as well as attracting and retaining talent.
 

What is financial wellbeing?

MetLife identifies four key indicators of financial wellbeing – and it’s hard to argue with them:

  1. Control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances – knowing what’s coming in and going out
  2. Capacity to absorb financial shock – such as a period without work or a family illness
  3. Confidence about meeting financial goals – such as buying a house, funding a child’s education or retiring on target
  4. Ability to enjoy life as you might reasonably expect – for example being able to afford a holiday or smartphone.
     

How can employers help?

Health and wellbeing support is increasingly important to employees – 38% said they would move to a company that that put their financial wellbeing as a priority. Employers are also recognising the value of employee wellbeing measures with 35% offering wellbeing programmes (up from 11% in 2015). A financial wellbeing programme should have three main aims:

  1. Reduce sources of financial stress
    Providing income protection and life cover policies can reassure employees that they’ll be able to manage and continue to support their family if they are unable to work. Workplace pension arrangements also help with financial security in later life.
     
  2. Increase financial literacy
    Make sure employees have the basic financial skills they need to manage their money – for example –budgeting, understanding and managing debt. You could provide access to personalised financial advice (and there are tax-breaks for doing so), workshops or coaching.
     
  3. Improve financial behaviour
    Promoting healthy financial habits such as saving to foster a long-term improvement in financial wellbeing. Well-designed employee benefits packages will use behavioural economics to structure the choices employees are required to make, ‘nudging’ them towards better ones.

With just under 116 million working days lost to stress and anxiety in 2017/18 [2], and financial worries a huge contributing factor, this issue isn’t going away. In understanding the challenges that face your workforce and providing an employee benefits package which puts employee wellbeing at its heart, you demonstrate that you care and promote engagement, talent attraction and retention.

[1] MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Survey 2017, Viewed 11/12/2018

[2] Hospital admissions for stress and anxiety soar among office workers, Emily Perryman, Health Insurance Daily online, 11 December 2018

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