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Not sure where to start with employee financial wellbeing? Money is a difficult topic for most of us to discuss but with it having such a big impact on all other areas of life, it’s important that we start the conversation.

Here are ten ways businesses can help their employees manage their money, and therefore their lives, more successfully:

One: Know when your employees could benefit

One of the reasons that financial wellbeing has been largely ignored in favour of other wellbeing policies is that many business owners and HR managers don’t know where to begin in implementing such schemes.

The first step is understanding when your team might benefit. That way you can identify what might be needed at various times.

Key stages to consider are:

 

  • When a new employee joins the company. They may be earning more money, earning in a different way or at a different frequency than before. They will need to make decisions around their pension and there may be other financial benefits on offer such as life insurance or medical cover which they should understand properly.

 

  • The mid-life MOT. The government encourages everyone to undertake a ‘mid-life MOT’ by reflecting on their health, wealth and career which as an employer you are well placed to support. https://www.yourpension.gov.uk/mid-life-mot/

 

  • While active retirement planning may not start until later life, saving for retirement, whether through a pension or not, starts much earlier. Financial planning can help open up conversations about retirement sooner, giving both you and your employee more options.

 

These certainly aren’t prescriptive and there may be other times which are relevant to your own business – for example, people becoming a partner or director or moving into a new role.

READ: When to Talk to Your Employees About Financial Wellbeing

 

Two: Understand their lifestyle ambitions

As we’ve said already, money impacts almost every other part of life. But money is just a conduit to something else – tokens we can use to add value to our lives.

Understanding your employee’s life goals (including what level of income they’re hoping to achieve as they progress through your company) can give you an idea about where they want to be and what support they might need to get them there.  Or in a worst-case scenario, identify a mismatch in competence and progression sooner rather than later.

Financial wellbeing schemes can help to do this because the open up the conversation in a more natural way. A financial planner needs this kind of information in order to assess the situation and understand the best route forwards which may help kick start the conversation with you.

 

Three: Help them with retirement

Asking about retirement is seen as a taboo. But that’s generally because employers leave it too late to have those discussions and at the point they do, the employee can feel like they’re being pushed out of the door.

In a similar way to step three, employers who understand their employee’s holistic life goals are likely to fare better. This conversation can begin as early as induction and go on throughout the employees’ career, turning to a discussion about retirement as life progresses.

Helping employees to plan their retirement can take the shape of group seminars to give an overview of their pensions and options or could be more specific one-to-one advice, tailored to their individual needs.

Doing this means your employee isn’t left in the dark when it comes to retirement, they know that they can be open and honest with you, making it a much more pleasant experience and meaning that you as the employer can plan accordingly.

 

Four: Make advice part of the induction process

A crucial time to make sure your employees have access to financial advice is at their induction. This is firstly because it sets the right tone about their relationship with you but also because they may be receiving more money than they have before, be being paid in a different way or at different intervals, which is a great time to receive information on how to manage it.

Thirdly, this is the time when they will find out about any other financial benefits that you offer like your pension scheme and any life insurance.

Most employers are guilty of ‘tick-boxing’ in this area, providing the benefit and at best, some generic policy information but then leaving the employee on their own to make decisions and to understand the information properly.

As an example, paperwork for your company pension scheme may ask questions about whether the employee would like to make additional contributions, what level of risk they want to take and whether they would like to do a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Without some context, these decisions can be really difficult to make yet can have a huge impact on your employee’s life further down the line. Allowing them access to financial advice at this stage can help them better understand the trade-off between money in their pocket today versus their future needs in retirement.

 

Five: Provide education

Unfortunately, many employers take a ‘tick-box’ approach when it comes to dealing with the financial aspects of an employee’s relationship with them. So long as they’ve provided the right pay, payslip and pension contributions they tend to believe that’s enough.

Instead, employers can go one step further, making sure that the employee understands what is happening and how to make the most of any financial benefits. This could be as simple as a handout with their payslip explaining the payments and deductions or information on where to go for basic budgeting ideas.

Pensions are a little more difficult as the advice ideally needs to be tailored to the employee’s individual circumstances. But as a minimum, asking a financial planner to speak to your team so that they have a little more context for their decisions is a good first step.

An even better approach is to arrange for new employees, and new starters in particular, to receive individual and independent guidance from a qualified pension adviser (see step six).

 

Six: Provide access to a financial planner

Implementing a financial wellbeing scheme for your employees can be as simple as knowing when (link) and where to signpost employees to in order to get the right information. This doesn’t have to cost anything at all, however, it is also unlikely to garner the best results.

For employers who want to go beyond the minimum, there is the option to arrange for a qualified, independent financial planner to visit the premises and offer one-to-one advice or guidance to employees.

In regulatory terms, there is a difference between advice and guidance so make sure you know what you’re getting when you sign up. Guidance is where an adviser can talk about the options available that are likely to be suitable but is unable to give specific recommendations.

Employers who want to go the extra mile can arrange for each employee, or a selection of their employees, to receive full financial planning advice. This involves an in-depth analysis of their situation and options and results in full recommendations to help them achieve their aspirations. This is a continual process that happens on an annual basis to cater for any changes in circumstances and to make sure that the employee is still on track to achieve all the things they want to.

Giving employees access to this shows that you genuinely value them and respect their lives away from the office. If the employee is willing to share the information, then it also gives you a much better idea of where they hope to progress to within the organisation and at what age they are hoping to retire.

 

Seven: Know that it is not about pay rises or products

Financial wellbeing isn’t about products and it’s not about spending more on benefit schemes. Genuine financial wellbeing is about giving employees access to education, guidance and advice to make decisions that enhance their lives.

 

Eight: Review your company finances and benefits packages

If you are considering implementing a financial wellbeing scheme it is a good time to focus on the financial wellbeing of the company as a whole.

In the same way that a financial plan can be created for members of your team, the same can be done for the business. One important step is to review your existing benefits such as your pension provider and any insurance packages that you offer to your team.

It is important to make sure that these are delivering value for money and motivating the team as they should. You should use this opportunity to gauge how much your team understands these benefits and where you might need to offer more education as there is little point providing a benefit that your team doesn’t understand.

 

Nine: Sick pay

Everyone becomes ill from time to time but missing out on pay whilst you’re sick can have a huge knock-on impact.

A reduced income may mean that the employee needs to borrow either in loans, credit cards or overdrafts to pay bills which can quickly spiral out of control and bring with it stress and worry which in turn can lead to a drop in productivity or further absences.

Instead, opting a sick pay scheme can mean that your employees have the freedom to take the time they need to get better without the worry of mounting bills.

 

Ten: Most Importantly – Make sure they understand their benefits

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again:

Genuine financial wellbeing is about giving employees access to education, guidance, and advice to make decisions that enhance their lives.

You may have heard the expression ‘if you don’t know your options you have none’ and this concept applies to information too. You can provide your team with a whole suite of benefits from insurance, to pensions, to medical care, but if they don’t understand what they have, they’re unlikely to use it.

If they’re unlikely to use it, it also means they probably don’t value it and therefore you might be wasting your money.

As advisers, it’s concerning how often we hear phrases like ‘I know I get something through work but I’m not sure what it is.’

All it takes is knowing how to communicate with your employees about the benefits that they receive from you, even if that’s just their salary.

Vintage can help talk to your team and implement many of the steps above. We offer a free consultation to any businesses in Teesside who want more information on how a financial wellbeing strategy might help. Contact us on 01642 525050 for more information.

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This post was written by Karen Parker