Life is getting hard and it looks like getting tougher in 2018 as we struggle with the potential impact of Brexit, increasing cost of living and the ever expensive property market. Recent press coverage has highlighted the escalating use of food banks and the fact that, as Christmas approaches, some parents are going hungry in order to afford to buy gifts for their children. As the New Year starts, many people will find themselves with credit card debt and in a more challenging financial climate.
Money worries, the associated stress these concerns can cause and how they can affect people’s wellbeing and productivity at work, are potentially one of the big issues for 2018. Financial worries can affect anyone regardless of job or income. Most employers have a range of benefits that can help; whether these are small everyday savings using retail discounts, help in saving for the medium or long term via share plans or pension, or perhaps providing a safety net via an employee loan scheme.
The problem is whether employees are aware of these benefits an understand how they work. Employers do not have to have a massive budget to communicate effectively and taking the time to give employees enough information so that they can make informed decisions can reap huge benefits for everyone: less stress, less absence, more engagement and increased focus.
Employee wellbeing has been on the agenda for a long time now but, if I had to give a focus for 2018, it would be on helping to raise awareness of existing financially helpful benefits, searching out those that complement these, and providing straightforward information to demystify complex financial issues. Employers are uniquely placed to reach the working population: if we all learned just one new financial fact in 2018 that would help us with our money, it must make a difference.
At Hays, we have a wide range of benefits that help our employees with financial wellbeing including retail discounts, a sharesave scheme, an employee loan scheme, a pension and an employee assistance programme (EAP). During 2017, we ran ‘Back to basics on pension’ seminars across the UK which were attended by over 1,300 employees. We also participated in national Financial Capability week promoting different financial benefits and providing information to employees on what issues can affect their credit rating and helping them to understand their consumer rights.
Rosemary Lemon is group head of reward at Hays and a member of the government’s Money Advice Service steering committee