Make 2018 the year for employee financial wellbeing

Financial wellbeing is a hot topic in today’s workplaces, with Willis Towers Watson’s 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey suggesting that employers make it a central part of their strategies by actively helping employees manage their personal finances.

Recognising that money worries are affecting the physical and mental health of staff, a growing number of organisations are embracing this by introducing financial education in a bid to improve employees’ financial wellbeing and reduce stress caused by these concerns. Doing so also enables employers to provide a provision that is valued by their workforce and helps them make the most of their benefits, according to new research.

The Lifetime Savings Challenge report from Close Brothers Asset Management and the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association further revealed that 60% of organisations don’t believe staff have sufficient savings, which is partly down to them having too much existing debt.

And financial concerns aren’t just on the minds of employers. Employees today are experiencing a significant drop in their financial confidence as a result of increasing debts, low wage growth and global political uncertainty.

Neyber’s The DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2017 research found employees themselves were most worried about their financial situation, with 58% of them being affected by financial worries in the last year, 54% suffering mental and physical effects of financial worries and 48% borrowing to meet basic financial needs.

“In this period of uncertainty, it’s never been more important for employers to seize the opportunity to put employees’ wellbeing at the top of their priority lists,” says Monica Kalia, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Neyber, one of Edenred’s strategic business partners. “Poor financial wellbeing not only affects individuals’ personal lives, it also hits their productivity and behaviour at work and employers are waking up to ways to help them.”

As one of the leading causes of absenteeism, there’s clearly a robust commercial reason to help employees deal with their financial concerns. And, of course, those that do will realise the motivational impact of being seen as a caring employer that puts the welfare of its people at the heart of its business.

So what can employers do to help improve employees’ financial wellbeing, and in turn boost their motivation and performance? And which ones are easy to implement at minimal cost? It’s so easy to help employees save money and ease the financial pressures being faced by today’s workforces.

Financial education and affordable loans

As one of Edenred’s corporate partners, Neyber provides employee wellbeing and borrowing solutions to Edenred clients, giving them the chance to offer it as a benefit completely free of charge. Its loans can be repaid directly from an individual’s salary.

“We’re on a mission to help UK employees be better with their money. When it comes to improving financial wellbeing we believe that education, debt management, and good savings habits go hand-in-hand,” says Kalia. “Our experience is that employees don’t just want education but also financial products that could help them borrow more affordably and save more effectively.”

For this reason, Neyber offers low, easy-to-understand borrowing rates, helping employees move from often high credit card interest rates of 20% to consolidate their debts into a more affordable salary-deducted loan. “It’s really important when introducing any new benefit to measure success and return on investment. Our approach is to survey employees upfront, looking at the financial needs and challenges facing the workforce and monitor any changes in financial well-being over time,” says Kalia.

Early indications from employers include reduction in employee absences, increased productivity, employee engagement, reduction in financial stress-related calls to employee assistance programme providers and employees feeling more supported by their line managers.

Kalia adds: It also helps break down barriers and makes talking about finances in the workplace less of a taboo topic.”

Neyber’s Finanical Wellbeing Hub is designed to build employees’ confidence and knowledge, with articles, tools and calculators tailored around people.

“That’s the beauty of technology – it tailors a whole user experience or a product around what people want and need,” says Kalia. “We’re going to see more and more of that, to really help people’s financial wellbeing, to help people’s mental health and help them live better lives and empower them to make smarter decisions with their money.”

Employee discounts

Along with offering financial education and loans, employers should also consider implementing employee discount schemes to staff, according to Andy Philpott, Edenred UK’s Sales and Marketing Director.

“Every organisation should provide their employees with access to employee discount websites. In many instances this access is free to the company to organise or at a small cost per employee,” he explains.

Today more than 1.5 million of Edenred’s clients’ employees have access to Edenred’s discount schemes. These solutions provide access to savings on a majority of household spend items that can’t be obtained on the high street or online through a mix of discounted eGift cards, reloadable gift cards or direct online purchases and offers. The savings that can be made include:

  • All supermarkets
  • Most leading travel brands – not just the main travel agents, but also the likes of Expedia and a wide range of hotel brands and cottages, days out and leisure and cinema tickets
  • Electronics – savings direct with manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple, mobile phone operators such as EE, or through key retail partners such as Dixons (PC World/Currys)
  • DIY suppliers at all main stores, including B&Q and Wickes
  • Department stores such as John Lewis, House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, as well as Ikea
  • The majority of fashion retail brands
  • Restaurant chains

“The breadth of savings available on the platform helps people with their day-to-day spending activity. If it’s done correctly, it really is a no-brainer,” says Philpott.

Administration needn’t be a worry either, since this is taken away from employers as Edenred can set up a platform with or without their branding and no resources are required.

They are also investigating heavily in new content, partnerships and technology. This means that in the future more products will be brought onto the site. Individuals will have the ability to order products directly at a discount, which is currently already available in Europe. There will also be a push towards instant savings from partnerships with retailers that will enable people to benefit as they are out shopping. The important thing is that it’s not a static offering – the offers and competitions change to get employees engaged with the site so they continue to benefit from the provision.

“Employee discounts are a high-participation benefit. Employees are seeing it as a real benefit and part of their everyday lives, which reinforces what their employer has made available to them,” Philpott adds. “They can see what they’re saving to appreciate the value of what they’re getting.”

The deal for SMEs

More than 7,000 SMEs already provide their employees access to employee discount solutions through Edenred’s My Work/Life Solutions employee portal. Here employees access these savings along with other solutions their employers request are turned on – for example, other financial wellbeing solutions such as Neyber, or salary sacrifice solutions such as Childcare Vouchers and cycle to work.

All existing Edenred SMEs (with fewer than 250 employees), particularly those offering Childcare Vouchers, should move over to the new SME benefits portal as soon as possible. It is a free upgrade – Childcare Voucher users can access their accounts through this portal and all employees can access employee discounts. Email hello@edenred.co.uk or call 0333 400 5311 to be set up in a few minutes!

 

Author: Andy Philpott | Category: Blog | 26/09/2018 | 0

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