Our HR Consultant, Lauren Long, discusses financial wellbeing and how employers can help support employees’ financial wellbeing.
January as we know it is the month that we globally commit to new beginnings and the overhaul of our personal lives; whether that be by breaking bad habits, eating better or finally joining that spin class you’ve put off for so long. There may be the few who feel that this is all too cliché, but I think it’s great to see so many people working towards new goals and for me personally, it’s a month that I use to reflect and reset for the year ahead.
As to be expected, every January we are inundated with health and fitness messages in the media. You will find a plethora of the latest tips and advice about how to eat well and move better. There has also been great emphasis in 2020 (and rightly so) on the importance of looking after the mental health of your workforce during lockdowns. Where employees might be juggling homeschooling pressures or struggling with the solitary nature of working from home.
One thing that doesn’t seem to be spoken about as much is our financial wellbeing. Are we all checking in on the health of our finances? Are you offering your employees support with this? For those businesses who have unfortunately suffered the financial impact of the pandemic, the financial consequences for the workforce will be all too familiar. However, if you are a business that has been lucky to survive the pandemic to this point, the financial health of your employees may be something that you have overlooked until now. It’s important to consider that some of your employees may have lost an income in their household this year or it may have reduced significantly.
If possible, look at ways in which you can support them. This might include pay increases where this is affordable or consider flexible working that could help drive down their outgoings such as travel or parking costs. Introducing additional benefits such as private medical care may be affordable to your organisation and provide significant savings to your employees on healthcare needs. Consulting with your employees before introducing benefit schemes will ensure that you are providing benefits that individuals truly value.
If you think that there is a potential need for you to make changes to your workforce in the near future, it would be sensible to start considering what these may look like now. This is in order to avoid the need to make any sudden decisions. Being transparent and keeping your workforce updated on the financial health of the business is also a good way to help employees be mindful of any potential financial implications that this may have on them and enable them to prepare or future-proof their own finances where possible.
Ensure that you have explored all available avenues of support that may be helpful to your business. Make sure that you are utilising any additional government support that could safeguard jobs within your business for as long as possible. This could be the Furlough scheme and any business grants. If you do have to make difficult decisions such as redundancies; consult with your employees to fully explore any alternative solutions to this such as reduced hours and pay or temporary layoffs.
Organisations such as the Money Advice Service or the Pensions Advisory Service regularly update their guidance to support individuals with managing their finances. HMRC is offering tax relief for employees forced to work from home. This is to help support the additional household running costs.
A lot of organisations such as mortgage advisory services and debt solution companies will offer to host free educational sessions or one-to-one advice which could prove invaluable to your employees.
It may also be the right time for you to evaluate your organisations operational capacity. Are there improvements to be made that will improve efficiency, productivity and drive down unnecessary costs? I have always been amazed when supporting organisations through restructures, at the innovative suggestions that have come from employees on the ground during consultation periods. This feedback has provided invaluable to the business leaders; significantly reducing costs through changes driven by employee feedback.
The next time you ask your workforce how many steps they’ve managed to track this week or how they’re coping with lockdown 3.0, remind them that their financial well-being should also be part of their 2021 health check.
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss Financial Wellbeing further, please get in contact with the HPC team today. We would be more than happy to talk you through the process.
T: 0844 800 5932