Time to put the financial into well-being

Rachel Suff
Rachel Suff

Senior Policy Adviser at the CIPD

We know that an employee’s mental wellbeing is influenced by many different factors – for example, gender, race, disability, and financial wellbeing. Our new series explores these issues.

Christmas is usually a time of joy, but for many of us, it can also be a time of great stress. Pressures on finances can have a profound impact on our mental health, and the combination of an expensive holiday season and a long gap between paydays in December and January can push people into financial instability.

In this blog, Rachel Suff, policy advisor at the CIPD, explores the difficulties this can cause workers, and what employers can do to help.

Slowly but surely more employers are adopting a holistic approach to people’s well-being, according to the CIPD CIPD CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. View organisation’s 2019 health and well-being survey report, in partnership with Simplyhealth. For example, our findings show that mental health is becoming a much more important element of employers’ health and well-being activity, which is very good news. Good work, collective/social relationships, physical health and values/principles are also priorities for the majority of organisations, while around half promote personal growth and good lifestyle choices as part of their health and well-being programme.

Financial wellness should also form an integral part of an employee well-being framework, and yet it’s by far the most neglected area of employers’ activity. Our research shows that just two-fifths of organisations include financial well-being (for example, pension advice or debt counselling) as part of their well-being programme.

A man is affected by stress over his finances.
Many employers are missing an opportunity to use their reward package to promote workplace wellness.

Money worries can have a direct impact on people’s mental health, and a quarter (24%) of HR professionals taking part in our 2019 survey believe that poor financial well-being is a significant cause of employee stress​Managing stress PDF Our jobs, relationships, family life or money can all add to our levels of stress. This guide explains what stress is and has tips to help identify and control it, in ourselves and in our teams and workplaces.Free By: RBS Group View resource in their organisation; the figure rises to more than a third (35%) for very large organisations with more than 5,000 employees. And over a third of our respondents disagree that employees in their organisation demonstrate the knowledge and skills to make the right reward and benefit choices to meet their financial needs. These findings show the clear need for more financial education and support for employees to support good mental well-being.

Communication of an organisation’s salary and benefits offering is one important way to help educate people about their financial circumstances, but our results show that many employers are missing an opportunity to use their reward package to promote workplace wellness. While nearly half regularly communicate reward policies to staff so they understand the benefits on offer and the choices available, far fewer regularly consult employees to assess how well their existing benefit offering is meeting their financial needs.

A manager discusses his firm's financial wellbeing policy with an employee.
Many employers aren’t sure where to start in developing an effective financial well-being programme.

Many employers aren’t sure where to start in developing an effective financial well-being programme, but some of the first steps include paying attention to:

  • Pay and benefits policy – eg a fair and equitable pay system and a benefits scheme allowing staff to pick benefits to suit their circumstances, as well as good opportunities for promotion and progression
  • Retirement planning – eg phased retirement options and pre-retirement courses/training as people approach retirement
  • Employee communication – eg induction material on rewards for new starters and total reward statements for all staff, as well as financial awareness programmes for employees that underline the importance of making long-term financial provision
  • Employee support – eg an employee assistance programm​Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) – Supporting good work for UK employers? PDF This report, published by The Work Foundation in association with the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, explains how Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) can be used by employers to seek help on both work and non-work related issues. Free By: The Work Foundation View resourcee offering debt counseling, signposting people to external sources of advice (eg Citizens Advice), interest-free loans (eg to help with season tickets or deposits for rented housing) and access to independent financial advisers.

The CIPD CIPD CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. View organisation also has a range of useful reports and guides to support organisations wanting to improve their employees’ financial well-being.

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