A recent ONS report on earnings and employment revealed that roughly 6.4m individuals in the UK live on less than £614 per month. For many,
A recent ONS report on earnings and employment revealed that roughly 6.4m individuals in the UK live on less than £614 per month. For many, £614 isn’t enough to cover bills and necessities, let alone stretch to any luxury items, suggesting that many of these workers are part of the in-work poverty trend which has grown in recent years throughout the UK.
Identifying who may be struggling to make ends meet each month is a difficult , hidden costs such as loan repayments and childcare can put even higher earners in a workplace at risk, so it’s imperative that employers introduce solutions which can help people on different income brackets overcome any financial challenges. We caught up with Mark Pemberthy, Head of DC & Wealth at Buck to see what works.
- Taking note of employee behaviour
Generally, people don’t like talking about money; a 2019 study found that people in the UK found it easier to discuss mental health and infertility than they did their finances. And, with one in ten fearing they would lose their job if they spoke about their personal financial life at work, it’s unlikely employees will voice any worries they have.
As such, employers need to gain an understanding of what ‘normal’ behaviour for each employee looks like. Doing so can mean it is more likely to notice differences in behaviour. If an employee who usually manages their workload effectively starts to lose track of where tasks are, it could be a sign of stress impacting their ability to concentrate. While not all stress is caused by financial concerns, noticing these changes in behaviour and acting on it can make all the difference.
- Creating a safe space for money talk
With so many people reluctant to talk about their finances, employers can make a positive impact by trying to eliminate the stigma surrounding financial issues. Prioritising financial education as a pillar of its employee benefits provision can help normalise the issue around the workplace and position employers as a confidential source of support. Additionally, virtual training courses, which can be accessed privately, can give employees the tools they need to start managing their finances effectively and enable them to involve their family to build confidence and encourage wider financial awareness.
By entrenching this relationship in the business, staff will gradually feel more confident in engaging with guidance or help, especially new joiners who see this as a core aspect of the company culture.
- Turning plans into action
A wide range of resources are available to employers when it comes to helping staff with their finances. Initial steps can include providing access to expert advice on debt and budget management, as well as promoting organisations such as the Money Advice Service.
Moving forward, it’s important to recognise that everyone deals with financial concerns differently, so when promoting existing resources, or putting new schemes in place, employers must consider whether there will be something that can cater to different needs and preferences. For example, Employee Assistant Plans (EAPs) involve confidential counselling services to help staff tackle their problems head on, while workplace savings schemes encourage employees to save directly from their salary. Introducing a range of these services can help ensure every employee will find something that appeals to them.
- Flexible working schemes
Initiatives such as flexible hours or working from home have grown in popularity among businesses, particularly with employees with 75% of UK workers favouring a job that gives them the option of flexible work schedules. Introducing these schemes can help workers reduce the cost of commuting and help them save money in other areas like childcare and have been shown to produce the desired results, with 43% of employees saying it improved wellbeing and 30% saying it reduced time spent commuting.
Additional schemes which aim to reduce an employee’s daily expenditure, such as subsidised meals in the workplace, cycle-to-work schemes and retail discounts can further help employees save that little bit extra and help them become more financially resilient.
Financial stress can affect anyone at any level in a business and no one should be left to suffer in silence. Businesses have a wide array of options available to not only improve money confidence among employees but make it easier to save money and also alleviate some of their financial concerns. By adopting a pragmatic approach, employers can help staff improve their wellbeing in a way that is catered to their specific needs.