Our personal finances are probably one of the most challenging areas of our everyday lives, yet it’s one of the areas we are least likely to talk about.  A YouGov poll commissioned by The Times and Lloyds Bank at the start of the year highlighted that indeed 48% of us feel uncomfortable having a proper conversation about money.

Unfortunately, it feels as though we’ve lost our way when it comes to our money and our own financial situation, and it’s perhaps not too difficult to see why;

  • finances in general have become more complicated;
  • saving and the ability to save has become more difficult (think about all of those pension changes);
  • we live in a debt culture as opposed to our old savings culture;
  • the benefits of spending are immediate, the benefits of saving are not;
  • the cost of living has risen;
  • our lives are generally busier and more stressful; and
  • there are less financial advisers and advice available to people.

So how can we change this?  And how can we make it more acceptable to talk about finances?

I’m a firm believer that we can turn this around.  I’m passionate about promoting financial wellbeing and helping people become financially secure, both now and in the future, and we really do have an opportunity to re-engage people with their finances.  And the place to start is in the workplace.

Why focus on workplace financial wellbeing?

We all face financial pressures, and it’s been well documented that these pressures can translate in to mental wellbeing issues, can affect an employee’s ability to focus on their job and lead to a rise in absenteeism.

Of course, employers have been offering a level of financial support by way of the workplace pension scheme or other financial benefits for years, so surely as the need grows for employees needing more financial support, it makes sense that employers would step in to provide this.

What does workplace financial wellbeing look like?

Now that’s a question! And one that is likely to look different for each employer.  I don’t believe there’s a one size fits all solution. However, there will be similarities and best practices that should be applied to anyone embarking on a financial wellbeing programme.

For me, the most important aspect of any financial wellbeing programme is empowering employees, by giving them greater financial knowledge, so they are able to make their own informed decisions in relation to their own situation.  And a crucial piece of this, is the communication of this information; making it interesting, easy to understand and action inducing, where applicable.

The content of a financial education programme can be anything from basic existing benefits information, to support on debt issues, to help with savings, investments and retirement, to buying a home and budgeting.  The list is almost endless, especially when you link the elements of a financial education program to your employee’s lives outside of work also.

Of course, a well-rounded, comprehensive programme needs to be of interest to all employees, there may be elements that need to be tailored to a specific employee group, but otherwise it should definitely be made accessible to all, allowing employees to explore what they may wish to know more about.  A good programme should cover a range of financial topics and support; directing people towards specific financial solutions.

Whilst the ‘what’ is important, the most important aspect of an effective financial wellbeing strategy that is too often overlooked is the ‘how’. If you want to get the right messages through to the right people at the right time it must be done in the right way for each individual.

This will encourage employees to really think about their situation, and to stop putting off what they should be doing today, until tomorrow. Most people know instinctively what they should be doing, it’s fairly obvious, so an effective strategy should focus a lot of its attention on encouraging good decisions – as well as being entertaining and fun of course!

Where do I start?

The Workplace Financial Wellbeing LinkedIn Group is hosting its latest conference on 25th July 2018 in London, 9.00am – 1.30pm.   With a host of industry experts and thought leaders in the field of financial wellbeing, this conference is a content sharing environment, where delegates will leave with ideas and strategies to improve and enhance their own wellbeing strategies.

Find out more, or book your place here.

By Darren Laverty, Secondsight Partner, Author, Speaker and Financial Wellbeing Consultant