Jonathan Watts-Lay, Director, WEALTH at work, a leading provider of financial education, guidance and advice in the workplace, answers questions on financial wellbeing and what can be done to reduce the burden of financial stress on employees

Jonathan Watts-Lay

  • What is the impact of being financially unwell?

It is not uncommon for employees to face financial worries at various stages of their life whether that is dealing with spiralling debt, concerns over retirement savings or simply making the monthly budget work.

We recently carried out a Wellbeing in the Workplace survey* with Reward and found that 66% of respondents said that financial worries caused increased levels of stress, 44% said it resulted in lower productivity and 38% said that it lead to absenteeism due to personal financial problems.

  • How can organisations help?

Many employees struggle to understand various financial issues that may relate to them and often fail to understand the many financial benefits on offer in the workplace. Employers can help improve their employees’ financial wellbeing by providing them with the knowledge to make informed decisions by integrating a financial wellbeing strategy.

It is imperative that employers understand the needs of their employees before implementing any wellbeing programme. After all, employees will each have individual circumstances which are likely to result in different priorities. For example - some will be looking to buy their first home, whereas others are preparing for retirement. This approach can then allow for financial education programmes and workplace saving initiatives’ to be developed which are tailored to each employee segment.

  • · Why do businesses need to help?

The link between debt, money worries and stress, lower productivity and absence are increasingly recognised by employers. There is a commercial cost to people having financial worries, or being unable to retire due to lack of savings, which is why looking out for your employees financial wellbeing is also in your best interest. In addition with an ageing population, having a human resource strategy which helps ensure employees can afford to retire is increasingly important. Yet despite this, our Wellbeing in the Workplace research found that 41% of respondents do not offer any form of financial support at-retirement.

It is not uncommon these days to see large firms with a third of their workforce aged 50 and over. Most want to retire at some point, so unless a well thought through plan is in place this can be detrimental for both the employee and the business.

It is encouraging so see that 77% of respondents agree or strongly agree that financial wellbeing should be part of a broader strategy as financial education is crucial in ensuring employees understand how to plan financially for retirement.

  • What is the best way to communicate this?

Our approach to delivering financial wellbeing programmes revolves around a proactive and interactive delivery, aiming to create a deep and lasting understanding to each segment of the employee population. We have educated over 100,000 employees and find the most effective way is face-to-face through seminars or one-to-one sessions. However, this may not always be possible so online education formats which include webinars, webcasts, animation and tailored company specific interactive microsites can also offer an effective method of communication.

  • Any other comments?

We believe it is important to help employees feel secure when it comes to their finances. A relevant and well communicated financial wellbeing strategy can deliver on this and is mutually beneficial to both employers and employees.

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