Business should put onus on employees’ financial wellbeing

Financial wellbeing can have a big impact on stress and work engagement

Employers should make their employees’ financial wellbeing a central part of their strategy, according to a report by Willis Towers Watson.

The risk management company’s 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey suggested that 69% of employers around the world recognised that they should take an active role in helping employees manage their personal finances, with more than half (56%) claiming that they planned to implement a financial wellbeing programme for their staff within the next three years.

It found that employees who were troubled by their financial situation were twice as likely to be in poor health as those who were not. It said this could result in higher stress levels, increased absence and low work engagement.

More than a third (35%) of survey respondents in the UK claimed that they lived from payday to payday, with 41% suggesting that they would be unable to pay an unexpected bill of £1,600.

Richard Sweetman, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson, said: “After the relative optimism of 2015, UK workers are experiencing a marked decline in financial confidence as we enter 2018. Rising indebtedness, low growth in wages, and global political uncertainty are likely to be contributing to this trend.”

He said that employers had a growing awareness of the link between financial worries and stress, absence and engagement.

“Employees are looking for help, and there is an increasing willingness on the part of employers to offer meaningful support with the financial wellbeing of their staff,” he added.

Although there were more employers willing to offer such benefits, Willis Towers Watson found that only about half of the 31,000 employees surveyed said they participated in their employer’s health and wellbeing programmes, with many sceptical about schemes based on their own personal details.

Type of support

It said that employers needed to learn what support their employees would benefit from, which may depend on their age. For example, employees in their thirties were the more likely to be concerned with housing costs than those in any other age range, while people generally became more concerned with retirement savings as they got older.

The report suggested that the form of support employees needed also depended on their level of financial concern, with services such as payday loans and debt management schemes offering more value to those who were struggling to manage their finances. Those who were less worried about money tended to value schemes such as spending management tools and savings vehicles.

The study said employers would need to “build rapport with their employees, being careful not to overstep or push too fast”, in order to help staff achieve their targets.

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