Financial well-being at the heart of employee satisfaction and productivity | Magazine – Re:locate Magazine | Vette Leader

This article will appear in the Fall issue of Think Global People magazine.Click here to access the digital summer edition.

These are tough times for businesses. There is a great temptation to cut costs and withdraw from expensive employee benefits in order to stay afloat financially. But it is just as challenging for the employees. They have also seen prices and inflation rise in many regions, and electricity bills rose again in the fall. Rising living costs, supply chain issues, rising inflation and an uncertain macroeconomic environment are taking their toll on the living standards of many workers.InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with more than four million members, reveals in its latest Expat Insider survey that many expats struggle with their personal finances when living and working abroad.The survey, which offers insights into expat life in 52 destinations, found that Mexico, Indonesia, Taiwan, Portugal, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and Singapore are the top destinations for expats in 2022.The worst destinations for expats are Kuwait, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Italy and Malta. The UK ranks 37th out of 52: Expats find it rewarding to work here but are unhappy with their personal finances. Globally, one in five expats (21%) is dissatisfied with their financial situation and 28% believe their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life.This is an essential factor in employees’ lives, and as such, companies would do well to think about how they can support their employees when economic conditions become more difficult. Organizations should consider how they can support the financial well-being of their employees – both in the UK and abroad. Financial worries can have a huge impact on employee productivity and even cause them to quit their jobs or take sick leave.

How can employers support financial well-being?

In the UK, the latest research from the Office for National Statistics shows that 77% of people are concerned about the rising cost of living. “With the cost of living on everyone’s lips, pay and benefits are key,” says Louise Skittrall, founder of Swindon-based Robinson Grace HR Consultancy. “Employers who offer incentives such as working from home, free parking, electric charging stations or subsidized employee meals will be significantly more attractive to potential employees who are looking for a more cost-effective job choice,” she says. As job openings continue to outstrip applicants, companies are struggling to attract top talent. “Employers need to look at pay as a means of attracting applicants, but the importance of building a strong workforce offering has never been more important.” WEALTH at work, a leading specialist in financial wellbeing and retirement, has also conducted research looking at the impact of financial worries on people’s lives.It found that almost half of UK adults (47%) say financial worries affect their lives, with more than a quarter (26%) saying it makes them feel depressed and anxious, suggesting more than a third (35%) increases 35-54 year olds. Almost a fifth (17%) admit they have trouble falling asleep because of money worries, which is 22% of 18-34 year olds.Jonathan Watts-Lay, director of WEALTH at Work, said financial education and advice in the workplace are key to providing much-needed support and many employers are now offering this as part of their overall well-being goals. This could be offered in the form of workshops or even individual coaching. Digital tools and helplines can also be of great help.

He says the other options employers might consider are:

Employee Discount Programs: Discounts to save employees money on the things they want and need to buy. Employee Support Programs: Assist employees in addressing personal issues that may impact their job performance, health and well-being. Introduce salary waiver: It’s very common for pension contributions to be paid this way, but they can also include payments for transportation such as company cars, bicycles and bus tickets, and even cell phones, gym passes, and health and dental care. Promote pensions: 30% of UK adults say they know they should save more for retirement, but it can be tempting to stop or reduce pension contributions during tough times. provide debt relief: Almost a quarter (23%) of UK adults say debt is one of their top financial concerns. Many companies offer debt management financial training seminars to help employees understand how to manage and pay off debt and what help is available. Some companies are now also offering credit consolidation through payroll to assist those who need help paying off their debt.Helping employees make the most of their savings: Savings and investment accounts offered in the workplace, including workplace ISAs, can be a convenient way to save.Share plan options: Many workplaces also offer employees the opportunity to invest in company stock through a workplace equity plan, including Save As You Earn programs and stock incentive plans. Pioneering External Support Services: There are many support services that employees can be made aware of. Citizens Advice can help identify what benefits or grants employees may be entitled to.Communicate your benefits: No matter how good the support for your financial well-being, if it is not well communicated and understood, it is likely to be overlooked by employees. Introduce financial education programs: Financial education and advice in the workplace can make a world of difference by giving employees the opportunity to learn about budgeting, money saving tips, savings, debt management and retirement planning, etc.

Do single premiums help your employees?

Charles Cotton, Senior Advisor on Performance and Compensation at the CIPD, says that against a backdrop of rising inflation, a number of employers are generously topping up their pay packages with a living cost payment, although this may have a negative impact on benefit agreements. Before proceeding with new systems, it may be helpful to speak to unions for additional advice and guidance.“To make sure your well-intentioned generosity doesn’t inadvertently cause additional undue stress or financial hardship, consider what other options you could offer your employees,” he says. “Professionals in the CIPD community have discussed various options, including offering gift certificates in lieu of cash payments (although even this has tax implications), increasing the cost of living, or spreading a one-time payment over several months so that it acts like a temporary raise .”

Increasing people’s incomes is perhaps the most obvious way employers can support financial well-being, and will likely have the most immediate impact. “It’s also worth considering what you can do to improve your benefits package for those who are struggling to make ends meet, and what financial support and guidance you can refer people to,” he says. “It is also encouraging to see that some professionals in the CIPD community are taking a longer-term perspective by supporting professional development as a means of increasing people’s future earning potential.”

Put employees at the center of the new world of work

One issue HR and mobility teams are grappling with is the now disparate nature of the office. Research from Towergate Health & Protection shows that an average of 45% of employees today are hybrid, splitting their time between working from home and their usual workplace. This raises concerns about the health and well-being of employees, as without the traditional workplace there is no hub for the delivery and communication of health and well-being benefits. “It is very important to us that the employees are well looked after and feel equally valued,” says Debra Clark, Head of Specialist Consulting.Hybrid working now reaches far and wide. Only 12% of companies said they had no hybrid workers, and another 12% said all of their employees now work on a hybrid basis. Perhaps surprisingly, the phenomenon is not limited to office industries.Construction industry respondents indicated that an average of 26% of their employees are hybrid workers. In hospitality and leisure, 32% of workers are hybrid workers, compared to 28% in manufacturing.While the need for support has been greater than ever, employers need to adapt the way they provide it. Digital communication is often the best way to keep everyone in the loop. Being able to see their options online and manage their needs in one place helps employees engage with health and wellbeing support. Through virtual consultations with GPs, physical therapists, counselors and other experts, employees can access support quickly and easily whether they are in the office, at home or on the go.

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This article will appear in the Fall issue of Think Global People magazine.Click here to access the digital summer edition.

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