The 4 steps to a financially healthy workplace
Australian’s have a problem. We’re worried about money and talking about it, especially in the workplace. And this was before COVID turned our lives upside down.
A QSuper Survey conducted prior to the pandemic revealed an overwhelming 95% of respondents admitted to having at least one area of financial concern in their lives. And almost 47% of all workers spent over three hours a week worrying about their finances at work. 1 As you can imagine this puts an enormous strain not just on the individual but on the organisation as a whole. In fact it’s reported that poor financial wellbeing costs Australian businesses $33 billion per annum. 2
So why are we scared to talk about money and to do something about it, and what are the steps employers can take to change this (and increase workplace culture by doing so)?
Remove the financial talk taboo
A report released last year on financial wellbeing and capability revealed over two million Australian adults were experiencing high levels of financial vulnerability. It also highlighted a significant proportion of Australians experience anxiety about not being able to meet an unexpected expense. 3
There’s a good chance many of your employees are part of these statistics.
It might sound odd, but there’s quite a few reasons why something as simple as talking about money can vastly improve workplace culture (and as a result, your company’s bottom line).
Studies show that the more people talk about money, the more motivated they are to learn about it and improve their financial situation. Those who discuss money frequently showed the most willingness to change their financial mindset and improve their financial wellbeing.
So why can’t we just talk about money at home to solve the issue? The problem is that we spend around eight hours a day in the workplace. By the time we get home, we’re often too exhausted to talk about our financial issues, instead choosing to use our nights to wind down and relax. As we spend most of our days at work, it’s unsurprising that we’re bringing our financial concerns into the workplace.
Despite the proven benefits of talking through and sharing a problem, only 3% of us talk to our work colleagues about our finances. In fact, over a quarter of us find talking about money in any situation difficult for fear of judgement and embarrassment.
The solution to this is surprisingly simple. Address the workplace taboo surrounding money by making financial education available to your employees to help improve their overall wellbeing.
Open up work conversations about money
Australians aren’t the type of people who will openly admit that they’re struggling, especially if they’re under the belief that doing so could jeopardise their job. Financial problems are extremely personal matters, so they must be addressed carefully.
If you have identified an employee who you believe might be struggling financially, suggesting one-on-one help or counselling can result in them feeling as if they are being isolated or punished. Often, a person who is financially unwell doesn’t even realise that they have a problem until a financial emergency occurs.
This means that before becoming ready to accept help, a person must first identify that they have a problem as well as being open to the idea of receiving support to solve it.
Financial Wellbeing Programs are an effective way to do this. Rather than point out specific individuals who might be struggling, these programs are optional and open to all, making them the perfect starting point to discussing money with your employees.
A good Financial Wellbeing Program will not only help your employees understand and identify whether they are on track financially – it will educate them on how to make good financial habits for the future. Designed to relieve financial stress and create a happier workforce, these programs are tailored to remain relevant to your employees needs and life stages. This means that they treat both the immediate symptoms and the cause of the problem.
Create a better workplace culture
Organisations take issues such as workplace safety and equality incredibly seriously. Why shouldn’t the financial wellness of a person be treated just as importantly?
As mentioned earlier, talking about finances and money worries is not the most comfortable thing to do. But it’s amazing how quickly your team will become more invested in their financial wellbeing when they understand simply what it means. And the positive impact it can have.
When this is managed well such as through wellbeing programs, employee engagement increases from 7% to 55%. Feeling in control of our finances and in turn our choices creates a sense of security and freedom that has a dramatic impact on our attitudes and performance.
An engaging Financial Wellbeing Program will teach attendees about cashflow and investments, helping them reduce their debt and manage their finances, which decreases their level of financial stress from day one.
A typical session answers questions like: What is financial wellbeing and the drivers for achieving it? How do you set up your bank accounts for success? How do you balance fixed expenses and discretionary spending? (yes, you can still buy a coffee everyday). Tips and ideas for what can you do this week that will save you money. What are the keys to success for being financially secure and having freedom of choice, now and in the future?
Employees will also learn how to plan for long-term goals, such as saving for a holiday, having enough money to enjoy retirement and managing mortgage repayments. By the end of the program, your employees will have greatly increased their financial literacy and be well on their way to financial wellbeing.
Make financial wellbeing your business
Surveys have shown that employees value workplace wellbeing over material benefits. Financial wellbeing is something which affects everyone and links to all other aspects of our lives. It affects our mental wellbeing, physical health and even our relationships with others.
Take some time to think about the culture in your workplace. Does it actively encourage employees to discuss their financial concerns and provide access to financial education services? If you were stressed financially, would you be willing to ask your workplace for help and guidance? If the answer is no, it’s time to take action for the health of your people and your business.
In the wake of COVID your team will be relying on your guidance more than ever before. And your empathy. Providing meaningful support will be incredibly beneficial for your team and organisation. Less financial stress means happier and more productive employees. This can only add to the culture of your workplace resulting in improved morale and retention rates, less sick days, and greater work/life balance.
And it’s hard to put a value on that.
- Survey of Queensland-based workers conducted in July & August 2019 by Ipsos, commissioned by QSuper.
- PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2010.
- Russell, R., Kutin, J. & Marriner, T. (2020) Financial Capability Research in Australia. RMIT University.
We also offer one-on-one sessions for employers who want to provide their employees with follow-up advice addressing individual needs. Our advisors Mariana, David or Stevie-Jade would be only to happy to take you through how this can happen.