Many employees are struggling with their finances: they are facing increasing personal debt, demanding financial commitments, and a limited ability to save for the future. Almost half of all employees worry that their financial state will leave them unable to retire, with one in three admitting to losing sleep over their worries.
Money worries are one of the major causes of employee stress and sleep loss. Financial stresses have also been linked to absenteeism, migraines, cardiovascular disease, and more. Nor do the effects of financial stress end there: worrying about money has been proven to negatively affect mental health, contributing to depression and other mood disorders. So, it is crucial to make sure that your financial well-being strategy is working for you.
Today, employers recognize the need to support staff better with their emotional, physical and financial well-being, but many programs still suffer from low usage and poor adoption by staff. So how can you prevent your new financial well-being strategy from falling into this trap?
Your 5 steps to ensure employee financial well-being
1.Provide the right support
Realise that staff may not feel comfortable discussing finances with their employer. Let’s be honest, discussing finances is one of the most sensitive and emotionally loaded topics in the employer/employee relationship. Consider utilizing a confidential EAP service that allows for anonymized reports regarding employee usage. Not only does this offer support to staff, but by using this data, you can tailor your financial well-being initiatives to the needs of your workplace.
2.Stay attentive to employee needs
Make sure you’re giving your employees what they need, not what you think they want. Financial initiatives aren’t something you should implement on a whim. If implemented well, they can be an invaluable tool for improving overall employee well-being and engagement. Look out for the tell-tale signs of financial distress in higher staff turnover, lower productivity or higher absenteeism.
Try to ensure that staff are open to trying new things. It will have an effect if they can see and understand the link between the employee benefit and the problem that it solves for them personally. Any employee well-being support you provide will be futile unless you have a communications strategy in place to raise awareness, ensure understanding and drive participation, one that creates internal advocates for the well-being services and support available.
Be open-minded and progressive in the types of tools you bring in for your employees. Don’t be afraid to try new ways of doing things when it comes to financial well-being. With so many varied generations and personalities in the average workforce, it is important to offer various financial resources to your employees. Some may prefer to talk to a financial advisor in person, or over the phone, while others will be happy to search for the information they need using an online database of financial advice.
Run financial well-being surveys at different stages of the benefit deployment to gauge how the workforce is faring over time and how fast they are moving towards financial resilience. You can then improve and adapt them if necessary to ensure you are still doing step one correctly. The implementation process doesn’t end after you roll out your benefit. Often the missing link in well-being strategies is an effective two-way communications infrastructure that gives employees access to the resources they want, whenever and wherever they need them most, but that also allows them to feed back to managers and HR so they can achieve continuous improvements.
While it might sound like a cliché, employees are the heart and soul of a business and the benefits of happier, less stressed, more engaged and more productive employees should not be underestimated. Attracting and retaining employees should be the number one priority for any company, and an effective and well-thought-out financial well-being strategy can help you do just that.
Hayley Dolby is Communications Executive at Personal Group, a technology enabled employee services business which works with employers to drive productivity though better employee engagement and a more motivated workforce.