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Boosting employee financial wellbeing in a pandemic

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By Frederic Portal, Product Marketing Director, EMEA Financials at Workday

Mental health, employee happiness, and our personal finances have all likely taken a hit since the pandemic began. Recent figures from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicating that at least 12.5 million households have been affected financially by coronavirus. Needless to say, financial troubles take a huge toll on employee wellbeing, and any anxiety around this can end up impacting performance at work.

Yet, as the economic crisis connected with the pandemic continues to unfold, it can feel like an overwhelming task for leaders trying to financially educate employees, reduce stress, all while keeping a watchful eye on the bottom line. So what can employers do to help workers reduce mental stress, boost financial wellbeing and achieve greater financial stability? The answer is, quite a bit. Employers can go beyond bi-weekly paychecks and provide employees with the tools, resources, and insight they need to better meet their financial obligations. Here are three key ways to do so:

  1. Start by creating a seamless HR process for finance, with a unique user experience 

Companies strive to create a good experience for their customers, so why not do the same for employees? Having a seamless experience for employees to manage their time, pay, and HR needs can improve their overall performance. By uniting finance and human resources in one system, we helped Netflix to create personalised financial wellness experiences – or ‘journeys’, as we call them – for different parts of the workforce. For example, employers can empower their employees to access on-demand pay or adjust to flexible payments whenever they need it. The employer can then pivot the payroll structure to offer loans to the workers who need them during difficult times, or set up repayment plans to help them manage their larger payments. This gives employees the peace of mind that they need to adapt and better manage their finances.

  1. It’s never too late to learn: offer financial education with on-demand platforms  

This year’s Changing Trends of Financial Wellbeing report found that 40% of UK workers reported increased financial anxiety in the wake of the pandemic. But for many, knowing where to start tackling these feelings of concern can be overwhelming. Employers can help to reduce stress surrounding personal finances by guiding employees to free, on-demand content and educating the workforce about financial support offered within the business. They can do so by sharing links to resources such as articles, videos or apps that employees are able to explore in their own time, while also providing targeted financial education training sessions. For example, the Citizens Advice Bureau shares free educational content on financial best practices like creating budgets and savings pots. To boost engagement, this could also be included as part of a company monthly newsletter, so employees know that the business is there to support them.

Furthermore, consider rolling out tailored campaigns that educate employees about how and when to use features such as on-demand pay. This will mean that employees have better financial insights to prepare for the long-term, not just a short-term solution for any troubles.

  1. Break the stigma – open up conversations about mental health and finances 

Not all employees will have the same financial concerns or goals. A worker who’s paying off a credit card, or student debt, could benefit from an expenses tracker, while another may be more interested in learning about their pension options. Running regular employee surveys and maximising the use of the data collected will lead to a better understanding of the main financial challenges your workforce is facing.

Beyond this, employers should give workers the confidence to reach out if they are struggling to get their financial plans into action. Not all employees will want to speak up about their personal finances, but it’s likely that everyone has a story or advice to share. It’s important to create a safe space where people feel supported sharing their experiences, and have other people listen without judgment.

Providing support during COVID-19 and beyond

Employers are more than paycheck generators, they are support arms for employees, during the pandemic and beyond. By following these three simple steps employers can embrace that role by understanding the financial needs of the workforce and actively helping them through the next few months. Not only will this boost employee wellbeing, it can result in better engagement and performance across the workforce at a time when the company needs it most.

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