COVID’s economic impact is hurting your people, and your bottom line. Here are 5 steps to boosting employees’ financial wellbeing
Think ‘employee wellbeing’ and mental and physical health most obviously spring to mind. But economic pressures are taking a significant toll on employees, pushing ‘financial wellbeing’ to the fore for HR.
Almost half (42%) of Australian employees have been negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19, with one in seven experiencing moderate or severe financial stress, according to the AMP 2020 Financial Wellness Report. And the fallout of this stress is costing organisations $30.9 billion in lost revenue each year, says the report.
To help HR leaders address the challenge, Australia’s largest employee benefits provider, Maxxia, have created a guide to taking on financial wellbeing with confidence outlining five steps to implementing a successful program.
One known challenge for HR is the mismatch between what employers perceive to be causing employee financial stress and the actual causes, says Suzanne Shepherd, Chief Human Resources Officer at Maxxia parent company McMillan Shakespeare Group. She points to the Gallagher Employee Financial Confidence Report 2020, which shows organisations rank credit card debt along with mortgage qualification and payoff as the chief culprits. Yet for employees, the major cause is unexpected costs and having sufficient savings and living expenses.
Another challenge has been driving uptake of programs, explains Shepherd.
“With far fewer opportunities to engage with employees face-to-face, and resources already stretched, finding ways to effectively market program benefits to employees can be one of the biggest obstacles to getting results,” she says. One problem, the Gallagher report reveals, is 47% of employees aren’t aware of employers’ financial wellbeing initiatives.
Five steps to success
The Maxxia guide identifies five key steps to designing an effective financial wellbeing program:
Step 1 – Take stock of your current offer. Super education programs or salary packaging are opportunities to boost financial wellbeing, so present them as such to employees. Also look at what is and isn’t working. Do you have figures to demonstrate how much employees save in PAYG tax by salary sacrificing, for example? Be aware, too, of best practice. Comparing your programs’ performance with others in your industry can help you set initial goals.
Step 2 – Engaging employees. Make sure the program meets the specific needs of your workforce, but avoid creating unrealistic goals and expectations or straying into risky areas.
So keep it simple. Consider ways to introduce new ideas and simple tools before ramping up for a full-scale suite of solutions.
Step 3 – Understand your options. Compare current solutions with what’s available; which options will complement, or broaden, any existing programs?
Consider how current communication channels might support the rollout of a digital content program to support financial wellbeing. Also assess how touchpoints such as onboarding and video conferencing events could offer further engagement opportunities.
An audit of how your employees respond to existing initiatives can highlight the best ways to boost engagement.
Step 4 – Embed ongoing promotion. Post-COVID, employees have grown accustomed to digital interactions, and for them to be personalised. Therefore any new product or service may enjoy better take up if it offers personalisation.
Line up your promotions with key events. By timing communications for events when personal finance topics are top of mind you can maximise engagement with your campaign.
Step 5 - Effective measurement. Linking measures of success to clearly defined business objectives is the first step in managing and meeting stakeholder expectations. Seek ‘hard’ metrics to define success, and use that data to support your business case for expansion. Maxxia, for example, offers detailed insights and regular reporting on potential tax savings to employees and the organisation from salary packaging and benefits take-up.
A confident way forward for HR teams
Download the guide for a round-up of the latest research and resources, plus plenty of quick wins and actionable insights to help you get your strategy underway.
For HR teams to stay up to date with ways to realise greater value from their benefits programs and activities, follow Maxxia Insights for Employers on LinkedIn.