This year’s events have had a huge impact on many aspects of people’s lives, yet when it comes to our personal finances Covid-19 has divided the nation. For some, financial worries have skyrocketed while facing the prospect of reduced hours, pay cuts and potential redundancies. While others, whose work has been relatively unaffected, have been able to focus more time and energy on futureproofing and money management.
This divide has caused the subject of financial wellbeing to rise to the top of the agenda for HR managers across the UK. And rightly so, as every member of staff who has understandably become more conscious of their financial situation requires impartial support and financial guidance wherever possible.
This is increasingly important as UK businesses have felt the knock-on effects of poor financial wellbeing this year. In fact, our research revealed that four in 10 (41%) UK employees have taken money worries to work with them this year, in turn impacting business productivity due to lost concentration and mistakes in the workplace.
While seven in 10 HR managers agree that the financial wellbeing of employees has become more of a priority to them since Covid-19, more needs to be done and 88% of employers believe their organisation’s board or upper management could better support them when it comes to promoting the financial wellbeing of their employees.
The problem cannot be ignored. And, whether your employees are experiencing money worries or financial prosperity this year, there are powerful actions that HR managers can take to secure commitment from the c-suite and help employees to feel in control of their finances as we move into 2021.
Highlight the impact
Financial stress is having a tangible impact on organisations, in fact our research discovered that employers who reported poor financial wellbeing amongst their teams were seven times more likely to have seen a drop in productivity this year!
Despite the shocking reality, the financial wellbeing of employees is still, more often than not, being left unaddressed by the busy c-suite. With senior leadership teams likely consumed by 2021 strategies and revenue forecasting, now is the perfect time to demonstrate the exact extent of the problem.
Making the problem financially tangible – at a time where every penny counts – will help ensure the message hits home. By demonstrating that improving financial wellbeing will not only increase employee engagement but will also enable them to dedicate more time to their jobs, will help get attention from the top to drive these initiatives.
Encourage the c-suite to lead by example
Senior leadership teams have a responsibility to empower every level of their business, and ensure their teams feel supported as we continue to navigate this uncertain period. Yet, two thirds (66%) of the employees we surveyed feel that their company provides little or no support for their financial wellbeing, and only 7% feel like they can talk openly to their employer about money problems.
Ahead of the new year, now is the time to actively encourage the c-suite to open up the conversation and talk about money themselves. 75% of employers agree they feel comfortable talking about an employee’s financial situation and wellbeing, but many businesses would also benefit from the c-suite promoting a culture that reassures staff that it’s acceptable to talk about money worries. Not only will this demonstrate that wellbeing is at the centre of your company culture, but it will also improve employee retention and business productivity in the long-term.
Ask for greater autonomy
With 42% of UK employees stating that their financial wellbeing has deteriorated over the last six months, it is imperative that businesses act now. But many employers don’t know where to start and 44% believe their organisation’s board or upper management could better support them by providing HR teams with more autonomy to implement appropriate solutions.
So, why not remove the constraints and make the case for greater freedom to implement the solutions you think will be most effective? More often than not, HR teams have their ears to the ground, among employees in the thick of day-to-day working life. This gives you a prime opportunity to demonstrate to the senior leadership team exactly how well you know and understand employees, and why you’re best placed to make those decisions.
A lack of commitment from the top is currently hindering progress and business performance. Even if many of your employees are not currently faced with financial instability, that doesn’t mean the above steps shouldn’t be applied. Whether or not staff members feel financially secure, HR teams and the c-suite should still work together to proactively promote financial wellbeing and money management skills, especially during uncertain periods where nothing should be taken for granted.
By Jeremy Beament, co-founder at nudge