Over the last year, costs have been at the front of everyone's mind. Prices have increased by an average of 6.7% in the UK. 12.8 million adults are now living in debt: an increase of two-thirds in just six years – frightening numbers.
Financial struggles have a heavy impact. They lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. Unsurprisingly, they bleed into individuals’ performance at work: with people losing sleep and focus.
This breeds its own problems. One person’s errors can trigger additional stress: both operationally, and by potentially affecting team morale and cohesion. Put simply, financial anxiety affects an organisation’s bottom line.
Boosting financial resilience
Working to improve the financial resilience of employees benefits businesses. Financial resilience is the ability of an individual or family to withstand events that impact their income or assets. It boils down to three things:
- Understanding finances and how to manage them effectively
- Earning enough to meet your needs
- Adapting to changing circumstances
Where businesses can step in to support their employees – over and above investing in Reward – is by working to build financial understanding. As Standard Life discovered, people who know how to plan their finances effectively feel almost three times more positive about their finances than non-planners.
By supporting your people to build financial understanding, you increase their ability to plan, which in turn develops financial resilience. This tangible support for wellbeing prompts employee loyalty, aiding engagement and talent retention. It can also make employees more aware of the value of other financial benefits you may offer, like share plans or employer pension schemes. All of this further enhances financial resilience.
Creating and communicating financial resilience resources
So, how do you create and communicate the resources that will embed greater financial resilience among your employees? Here’s our advice:
Understand your people: Start by understanding the financial needs of your employees. This means exploring what they know – or don’t know – about financial management. Don’t make assumptions about this: The World Bank estimates that approximately one-third of people in the UK are financially illiterate[CR3], so there may well be people who are starting from a very low base.
Use surveys, workshops, and interviews to gain a fully informed picture of employee financial knowledge, pain points, and priorities. look out for life-stage and generational differences so that your resources and communications will meet your employees where they are.
Think broadly about the resources you could offer
Analyse your data to see what information or support will have the greatest impact on your employees, and to assess how that could be provided.
Do you want to invest in creating dedicated, internal resources, and learning and development opportunities? If so, you’ll need to think about what form they take:
- In-person workshops
- Financial webinars delivered by in-house experts, or by dedicated external providers
- A financial resilience mentoring programme
- Networks of Financial Wellbeing First Aiders
- Regular ‘money clinics' with a visiting financial adviser
- Employee Assistance Programmes to signpost support
- Visiting mortgage advisors
Or do you want signpost external resources? Could you build a financial resilience hub, which is a dedicated place for your people to discover and explore:
Communicate your support effectively
Whatever the support you’re offering, it has to be communicated sensitively. Worries over finances can cause fear, shame, and avoidance. So, take a staggered approach. Plan a small-step, cumulative campaign, which builds engagement and momentum.
Start by upskilling managers to ensure that they understand how financial anxiety can affect employees, and how they can best normalise the conversation around building financial resilience. Ensure that they themselves have financial resilience and that they understand the tools and resources available to employees.
Introduce comms that focus on making financial resilience a clear concept for employees. This should support employees in understanding what financial resilience is, how they can build it, and the benefits it will bring. Communicate in a way that’s simple, friendly, and inclusive.
At this point, you may want to consider bringing in employee voices: sharing stories about financial challenges that individuals have faced, and how they dealt with them, or sharing stories about how they manage their budgets.
The final step is to communicate your resources: what they are, how they support employees, and how employees can access them. Consider linking bitesize comms to crucial moments when people focus on their finances. For example, include a short video about an aspect of financial resilience with every payslip – how to set up a budget, plan a pension, and understand interest rates.
Building the financial resilience of your employees is a long-term goal. Think simple, steady, supportive – and keep listening to what your employees need.
If you have a similar challenge or just want to know more, then drop us a message below. We're happy to help.