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Financial wellbeing – fad or fundamental?

Published by Damian Stancombe on

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


You may be considering whether your business should commit spend to a financial wellbeing strategy - can you be certain this will deliver value into the future or will this be a forgotten trend and sunk cost come 2020?

You are most likely already delivering financial wellbeing - to an extent – regulation has driven the provision of workplace pensions. However developments such as gender reporting and “the Taylor review of modern working practices”, have focussed the business mind on wellbeing, fairness and inclusion. We therefore need to ask ourselves: does pension planning only reflect the needs of certain cohorts – particularly those of greater affluence or age, potentially at the expense or exclusion of the priorities of other workers?

Even for those who value pension benefits, this only addresses the “one day”. In order to offer an inclusive financial wellbeing strategy, perhaps you need an approach beyond pensions which looks across:

TODAY | TOMORROW | ONE DAY

Indeed it’s the “today” issues that are likely to be the most influential on an employee’s decision making. This decision making can impact you organisationally - most notably in terms of talent retention. No-one wants a talented employee, that you have invested training and development in and perhaps holds key client relationships, to be attracted by a competitor’s lure of an enhanced pay and benefits package. Perhaps it wouldn’t even be the employee’s first choice to change employer, but financial pressures may drive this decision.

The well-known Maslow’s theory states food, water, warmth and rest are basic needs that need to be fulfilled in a pyramidal hierarchy before one can achieve their potential. It sounds simple but in reality just affording basic housing and utility bills can be a difficult daily goal for many. This is demonstrated in our Generation WHY? research. which found that day-to-day living costs was a top priority for 51% of respondents, closely followed by the cost of housing. I recently read that London house prices are 14 times the average salary. See also the rapid upsurge of food banks across the country. Kings College research cited that even small changes in income or outgoings are leaving people with absolutely nothing. Some employees have even reported absence due to the inability to afford their commute. Add to this, the threat of rising inflation and the potential impact on prices as a result of Brexit.

Every £1 spent on financial wellbeing has been reported to have more impact than the equivalent salary increase

Recent CIPD research published in a REBA article highlighted that 55% of employers have increased salaries to improve staff retention. Is this the only and/or best solution? So what’s the alternative? Every £1 spent on financial wellbeing has been reported to have more impact than the equivalent salary increase. A key benefit of implementing a financial wellbeing strategy is that it not only supports an employee’s financial position but also actively demonstrates to employees that you care about them. This two-pronged approach is highly effective and the value to an organisation of an engaged employee cannot be understated.

You can implement a financial wellbeing strategy on a standalone basis but what really excites me about this developing field is how this weaves a common thread through so many other core business strategies and joins together all the pieces of the productivity puzzle: talent management and reward in an environment of squeezed budgets, employee engagement, workplace resilience, physical wellbeing and mental health, absence management, retirement strategy, employer branding in a market with so many employers seemingly struggling to obtain the right talent, even to a degree social mobility – all of which are key drivers in organisational productivity.

There is an abundance of statistics being quoted about the impact of a financial wellbeing strategy. Perhaps the question should be, why wouldn’t you develop a financial wellbeing strategy?

If this makes sense to you, you wouldn’t be alone in your thinking – the FSA, CIPD and the Government have all published white papers and many employers are reporting positive results from implementing a financial wellbeing strategy.

Constructing an inclusive financial wellbeing strategy is based on building an overall framework with independent solutions, including policy / procedural change & education to break down financial barriers (not just a single workplace debt product), and should be designed to reach all employees, who will all have differing needs across today, tomorrow and one day.

This article was contributed to by Melissa Blissett. 

Beyond Pensions

Our research reveals that UK employers care about the financial needs of their employees and want to help alleviate their financial stress, but are not hitting the spot.

About the author

  • Damian Stancombe

    Damian heads up the Workplace Health and Wealth team for Barnett Waddingham. Damian advises a range of UK corporate and trustee clients on their workplace health and wealth issues; from scheme design through to ongoing governance for all defined contribution arrangements.

    View Biography

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