As we head into 2022, dubbed the ‘year of the squeeze’ by a leading thinktank1, UK households face increases to the cost of living, rising mortgage rates and inflation, and an estimated 6 million households are expected to struggle with skyrocketing energy bills2.
That’s why every organisation needs a financial wellbeing strategy, now more than ever. People are inevitably struggling with post-pandemic debt and other money worries, and the stress has a direct impact on attendance, engagement and performance (absenteeism and presenteeism) at work.
A recent survey reports that up to 4% of payroll is being lost to employee stress and absence due to financial concerns3. Employees with stress buckets that are full are simply not equipped for their day at work, and that will affect your organisation’s profitability.
Why is an inclusive, long-term strategy is so important?
You may already offer financial wellbeing support, by delivering online modules or face to face sessions. This is very useful in the short term. Day-to-day financial hygiene such as saving tactics, managing debt, and creating a financial plan are great basic building blocks, and even better if you take into account the age range and specific financial ‘pain points’ of your workforce and deliver modules they will benefit most from.
But… you are highly unlikely to connect with every employee in a single event, be it launching access to online information or even hosting a session. People’s resilience to financial wellbeing is likely to fluctuate, so an event hosted in Spring is unlikely to impact upon someone who is suffering from financial anxiety in Autumn. And no matter how much impact or engagement you have with your initial launch, the effects will drop off over time.
Build your strategy without making assumptions
Everyone in your business has their own financial stresses, but we just don’t know who in your business will be suffering from financial stresses and at what particular points during their working lifecycle. However, we do know what are likely to be the major trigger points, and this is where data can be key.
You are likely to have a wealth of data about your employees, which can act as the starting point to creating your strategy. And by collecting and evaluating quality data - such as demographics, age, earnings, role, location and gender - you can better understand how your people are responding and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Think about what success would look like for your organisation
To assess how well your strategy is performing, you might monitor various outcomes, such as the number of employees who have visited your online hub, how many attended webinars or engaged with your delivery in another way, or whether there has been a decrease in absenteeism or improved productivity. Maybe you’re looking to directly and measurably improve profitability. Another great way to measure success could be an employee survey, to understand how people feel about the support you’re offering.
Employee engagement – not just a ‘one and done’
Lasting financial wellbeing for your people isn’t a short term fix. For truly effective, long term engagement, regular and timely communications are crucial, as is periodic monitoring to measure success and keep your financial wellbeing strategy constantly evolving. Your hub or hosting should grow and stay fresh with up-to-date content, and regular communications should be pushed out to cement it as a familiar space for your people to turn to when they need their benefits most.
Think about how your different workforce demographics want to access the information and support – make everything accessible, visually simple, in plain English, and consider a variety of delivery methods: hard copy, digital, face-to-face sessions and even video. Most importantly, ensure that there is always signposting to trusted solutions where your people can ask questions or access further support… without this, you have provided information, but not the means to act upon it.
Using your financial wellbeing strategy to enhance your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
Providing financial wellbeing support to your people is an excellent, but sometimes overlooked, way to show them that they are valued, and to give you the edge when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. The key is linking the benefits you provide in the employee’s mind to supporting their wellbeing.
Firstly, start by looking at the employee benefits you already offer, and consider when they were last reviewed to ensure they remain relevant. Using engagement data and employee feedback, assess which benefits or support you need to add, and how this marries in to your long-term employee benefits strategy.
Remember, the more data you can analyse, the better your understanding of trends and focus points, and crucially, how you can evolve your strategy to enhance your EVP. For example, it’s useful to understand which sessions are popular, but equally why the attendance for others is lower. From employee feedback, you might be able to see how important these areas are to your people, and whether you can make subsequent changes to the benefits you offer. Are the delivery methods right for your demographics? Are there any groups with low levels of engagement and any steps you can take to improve this? Are there any links between age, role, salary and trends you are seeing?
Regular data reviews and insights, combined with an effective engagement strategy, are essential to creating a robust long-term financial wellness strategy that evolves and stays relevant to your people. The result is a more productive and engaged workforce, improved performance and profitability, and the opportunity to create an EVP that attracts and retains the very best talent.
References: 1Resolution Foundation (2021) 2National Energy Action (2022) 3National Wellness Conversation (2021)