19 January 2020

Making money matter – how to help employers promote financial wellbeing

Improving financial awareness across a workforce is a sure-fire way to increase engagement with the employee benefits package. But the benefits of offering financial health and wellbeing go much further than improving engagement figures, with employees and employers both standing to gain.

Good money management skills can help to safeguard an employee’s mental and physical health. Worrying about money can cause mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and self-esteem issues; lead to relationship problems; and, especially where it affects sleep. This could increase the risk of ailments ranging from common colds to heart disease.

Providing employees with the tools to take control of their finances benefits employers too. As well as less sickness absence and greater productivity resulting from a healthier and happier workforce, it could help improve employee engagement. Providing tools and support to improve employee engagement could make it easier to attract and retain staff.

Implementing an effective financial health and wellbeing programme is key to maximising these benefits. But, as money is such a personal matter, designing the right support can present challenges.

Employees may be reluctant to come forward for help, especially where they’re struggling with a serious debt problem. In addition, as a financial problem can affect an employee of any age, position or income, it can be difficult to target support.

Given these challenges, it’s important to ensure a financial health and wellbeing programme includes a variety of different tools and services. Although demographics and budget may dictate some elements – for example, an employer might want to run pre-retirement seminars for older employees and benefits presentations for new recruits – a programme offering everything from one-to-one financial planning sessions with an adviser to brochures, online calculators and apps will ensure it benefits as many employees as possible.

External support, such as an employee assistance programme (EAP) or a financial wellbeing app, can be a particularly important component. Having this within a financial wellbeing programme can encourage employees to seek help without worrying that their employer or colleagues might find out.

This is particularly the case with an app. As it sits on an employee’s smartphone, it becomes much more personal, making them more likely to access information and support whenever they need it.

Although it’s possible to source different financial wellbeing components to build a programme, many organisations will already have access to at least some of these resources. EAPs are a common workplace tool and some employers will also have employee benefits products that include free added-value services that can be a valuable part of a financial wellbeing programme.

As an example, we give all of our group protection customers access to an EAP package of support from Health Assured. This includes a range of facilities that  employees and their immediate families can use, and a smartphone app, My Healthy Advantage. This app offers a variety of bespoke features to support an employees’ mental and physical health, including their financial wellbeing.

Good communication around the programme is also vital. Regularly drawing employees’ attention to the different tools and services will increase usage and help them improve their financial health and wellbeing.

And, with improvements likely across everything from sickness absence rates and productivity to engagement with the benefits programme, tracking results and translating them into financial savings can be a particularly powerful way to demonstrate the value of the programme and your advice.

Visit our employee assistance programme page to find out more about how your clients employees can access financial support via the phone, online and the ‘My Healthy Advantage’ app.