You could consider financial wellness to be the most important employee benefit around. However, whilst helping your employees understand and improve upon their personal financial situation is an honourable diversion, if employers don’t approach the situation with tact they could miss the mark entirely.
And, despite the fact that financial woes weigh heavy on the minds of many employees, businesses still seem unwilling or unable to discuss the taboo topic with transparency. A report form Willis Towers Watson found that just one third of employees are satisfied with their current financial situation, with money worries being cited as the leading cause of stress amongst the population.
“Employees are lingering on the job and they’re postponing their retirement,” explained Karen Hall, VP, financial education and employer services, at TE Wealth. “This hasn’t gone unnoticed by employers. If you want to move people along and help replenish top talent this can be an issue for businesses.
“On an individualistic level, poor financial wellness impacts upon employee mental health, on their stress and anxiety levels. This in turn impacts on engagement in the company, workplace morale and overall productivity. The work I do in financial education tends to be with companies and employees who enjoy a moderate to high income. When we look at low to moderate incomes across different sectors you can see they’re so much more restricted. Whilst there’s so much good work going on to help employees deal with their mental health and their worries in the workplace, in reality this is really aimed at those few higher income workers. For the lower income sub-section of the employment sphere, these worries are a daily prevalence – and one which is almost impossible to deal with.”
In fact, it’s so widespread in the lower income groups that most businesses probably won’t have the ability to help those impacted deal with the issues at hand. It’s almost as if we’re in a little box, speaking about benefits and retirement plans for high earners – but we’re ignoring an entire subsection of staff.
“There are existential issues surrounding the sudden interest in financial wellness in the workplace – but there’s no quick fix silver bullet,” added Roland Chiwetelu, consultant at TE Wealth. “Just look back at decades of incomes not matching up with inflation, of people struggling to make it on their salaries. In the past few years, especially in the developed world, incomes of the general population simply haven’t kept up with living costs.”
It’s really important for senior management to include financial wellness as part of their overall wellness strategy. This is because financial wellness feed into the other organizational-wide objectives they’ll be trying to achieve.