Financial education pilot launched by HR director to combat stress at Story Worldwide

An HR director is pioneering a new financial education pilot with her staff in a bid to reduce stress and improve productivity.

Christina Strupinska, HR director at content marketing firm Story Worldwide, has launched the six-month pilot in conjunction with insurance firm Axa, after noticing some staff were suffering from stress caused by money worries.

The pilot will provide half of the 54-strong workforce with access to financial education through one-to-one support with an independent financial adviser, a dedicated telephone support service and self-help guides, including online resources. The other 27 employees will not receive any support, acting as a control.

Every month all 54 staff will be asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire assessing their levels of stress, whether it has affected their work, and their knowledge about managing their finances. The results of the pilot will be published in November.

Strupinska told Personnel Today: “In my company, a lot of people’s stress issues aren’t to do with work, but they affect their work, and finance problems are one of them. I think it will improve productivity for the people that have any financial problems and reduce their stress as they won’t be worrying at work.”

She added: “Looking after staff in general increases productivity; if they feel well looked after and can tell they are seen as worth spending money on, productivity should be higher anyway.”

Strupinska said offering financial education to a workforce was not the responsibility of employers but was a great benefit and helped to improve work-life balance, so other employers should consider it.

She urged the government to do more to incentivise employers in this area through tax breaks for those who implement a financial education programme, echoing a call made by Axa last year when its research revealed 25 million UK workers were suffering financial anxiety, and 1.4 million had been absent as a result.

“I think the government could incentivise employers to do this especially at this time as a lot of people are experiencing more financial difficulties and having to reduce their expenditure, and relatives might be being made redundant,” Strupinska said.

Paul McMahon, managing director of Axa Corporate Benefits, added: “We hope this experiment will go some way to proving the benefits of allowing individuals to engage with money matters in a working environment which in turn will lead, we believe, to improved productivity, reduced sickness absence, greater employee engagement and enhanced loyalty to the employer.”

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