FINANCIAL WELLBEING IN THE WORKPLACE

Why it is important to normalise the conversation about money for your employees

  • 09 June 2021
  • 10 mins

Back in January 2020 I stood in front of an audience of over a hundred employees, delivering a seminar on financial wellbeing. After the session I was approached by a woman who worked for the company. She broke down into tears. The year before she had tragically lost her husband and was now the sole parent and income earner for her and her daughter.

Although successful within the organisation, she had neglected her own wellbeing and hadn’t reached out for support from her employer, or anyone else. Her fear of reaching out stemmed from not being seen as strong or able to continue to perform well within her role. Unfortunately this isn’t an uncommon situation. All of us will experience pain and times of uncertainty throughout our lives without knowing where to turn for support. This is increased through the financial pressures that often present themselves at these times.

What is financial wellbeing?

Financial wellbeing is the feeling of being in control, having financial freedom and prioritising what’s important to each and every one of us.

Good financial wellbeing is not about having the most money. It’s about empowering people to have an understanding of their finances so that they can make a plan to help support them when the unexpected in life happens.

Why build a financial wellbeing strategy for your organisation?

This might be controversial but “wellbeing” has become a buzz word over the last 12 months. For employers, the pandemic has accelerated a need for them to implement or revamp their wellbeing strategies but how many can truly say they’re making a positive impact on the lives of their employees as oppose to a tick box exercise?

If done correctly, an effective wellbeing strategy can have positive impacts. What company doesn’t want to increase the wellbeing of their people? Become more attractive when looking to employ and retain highly qualified employees? Become more profitable through having people who consistently perform at their best?

Financial wellbeing is often the pillar that is left until last and de-prioritised against mental, physical and social wellbeing but this needs to change. Unless an employee feels comfortable enough to speak out and share their story it is impossible for an employer to know how they can support.

It is at these times when a robust financial wellbeing strategy could make all the difference.

Financial health in the workplace

2020 was a year of unprecedented change and many of us have felt the financial pressures that the global pandemic has produced. The Government, banks and lenders have played their part in supporting individuals through various initiatives such as furlough, repayment holidays and stamp duty relief however part of me feels like there is a piece missing around how we educate people so that they understand the financial decisions that they’re making.

In my opinion, there are two reasons for this.

1. As a nation we don’t like talking about money. Our finances are seen as complex, personal and something that shouldn’t be shared - particularly when we’re facing financial hardship. Money is one of the last taboos however we all have a part to play in normalising the conversation.

2. As an employer you are not expected to be the experts in financial matters. There is a fine line between supporting your employees with financial education and providing them with financial advice. This is a line no employer wants to fall foul of however you do have a duty of care to be able to signpost your employees to support available.

The positive impact an effective financial wellbeing strategy can have on your employees’ isn’t the only reason to implement one.

According to our Money and Mind Report, 27% of us admit that money worries impact our performance at work. If we put that into context, that’s nearly a third of every workforce that isn’t performing to the best of their ability. A third of us who are potentially taking time out of the working day to seek support, speak to our bank and lenders or confide in others about our concerns. This links back to presenteeism and the notion that although physically at work, we aren’t able to fully perform our job.

This is the second reason. By providing access to practical support you could reduce presenteeism, improve productivity and have a positive impact on the bottom line commercials of your business.

Be proactive

It is vital that individuals understand where they can go to get support. There are a wealth of organisations, including Schroders Personal Wealth (SPW), who can partner with businesses to provide financial education and guidance within the workplace. It is never too late to start the conversation or explore your options as an employer.

Whether you have a financial wellbeing strategy in place already or are starting to think about this for the first time. Whether you have a big budget to invest or you have no budget at all – I hope that this gives you some inspiration on why you should consider prioritising building an effective financial wellbeing strategy for your organisation.

Now is the time to normalise the conversation.

A bit about me

My name is Leigh Dunkley and I am the Financial Wellbeing Lead at Schroders Personal Wealth (SPW). I have worked in financial services for the last 7 years, starting my career as a Corporate Banker with Lloyds Banking Group followed by spending 5 years at Scottish Widows where I worked with companies of all sizes to review their workplace pension schemes and strengthen the support they provided to employees.

It was during this time that I realised my passion for financial wellbeing and started on my journey to deepen my knowledge of personal financial planning and the importance of being able to provide education, guidance and advice in the workplace.

Fast forward to October 2019 when I joined the team at SPW. Since then I have dedicated myself to improving the financial wellbeing of individuals across the UK. Through my work with HR and wellbeing teams I help to build and/or enhance firms financial wellbeing strategies, aiming to truly engage and support their employees in creating a financial plan.

I passionately believe that financial institutions, governments and charities need to work hand in hand to support individuals and help them to engage effectively with their finances. Establishing an understanding of wellbeing and demystifying the subject of finances is the start of this process.

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