Employee care | How to make financial wellbeing work

How to make financial wellbeing work

In 2020 we have seen an increased interest in Financial Wellbeing.

The global pandemic has brought challenges but also made the industry aware of the needs and requirements to support this topic within the Employee Benefits industry. Financial strain can impact people’s lives and considering the economy and challenging times, the fact remains that almost a quarter of the UK population has less than £100 in savings.1 Employee financial education - as part of a wider wellbeing programme - seems essential now more than ever.

It is well documented that physical, psychological and financial wellbeing are intrinsically linked. And we’re seeing this play out now more than ever, with 23% of people saying their household finances have been impact by the pandemic. Those impacted financially reported lower wellbeing with 63% saying they felt stressed or anxious.1

The question is, how do you design a programme that works for all when both individual circumstances and the world in which we live are constantly in flux?

As with all areas of employee wellbeing, there simply isn’t a ‘plug in and play’ solution for financial wellbeing, which might explain why many employers have struggled to get anything meaningful off the ground. And why now – when the attention of many global CEOs has become very clearly focused on wellbeing thanks to the pandemic – the top priority for HR is engaging employees with benefits. In fact, nearly all (99%) employers want to engage employees with benefits, but it’s telling that less than half (43%) have a strategy.2

Articulate clear & cohesive care pathways

The key is take a much more integrated approach: one that makes better use of existing benefits and services to which an employee might already have access; positioning them as part of a pathway of support as opposed to disconnected; and communicating them in a way that helps employees rationally understand what’s available, why it’s relevant and how it can be accessed.

It’s only through this rational understanding that employees will emotionally change – in other words, they’ll be more likely to use and value the benefits, services and other resources you have invested in on their behalf.

On that note, here are the views of some of our Wellbeing Investment Matching and added-value support service providers.

Alison Pay, Managing Director of Mental Health at Work – a provider of facilitated mental health training – says that one-off employee wellbeing initiatives will never result in long-term positive impact.

Mental Health at Work works with organisations to deliver comprehensive and inclusive programmes around mental health in the workplace that help employers consider whether they are seeing the benefits in action in the shape of: “a widespread understanding of mental health in the workplace and how it can be impacted; the skills to have a conversation and be prepared to listen; and a robust signposting and support platform that includes EAP and supplementary benefits.

“In these organisations, whether in person or virtual, conversations happen early and employees are signposted to the support they need. This, quite possibly, will make the difference for both the individual in protecting their mental health and the organisation, retaining employee satisfaction and talent.”

It’s with joined up thinking in mind that Generali last year introduced an innovative new mental health navigation service to the range of added value support services available via our group income protection policy.

Don’t leave everything to line managers

Best Doctors’ Mental Health Navigator from Teladoc Health helps integrate an employer’s existing benefits, services and mental health policies and procedures into a more structured and meaningful pathway. It does this by providing access to a dedicated mental health nurse who can organise expert mental health assessments and action plans from a cross-functional team of psychologists, psychiatrists and clinicians. The service has been designed to support those struggling with a range of mental health conditions from anxiety, stress or depression to many other mental health problems.

This service can also provide signposting to a variety of resources that are available to support an employee, for example via an EAP and even via local community health and support services - thereby reducing pressure on Line Managers and Mental Health First Aiders, while helping to improve outcomes for individuals and for business.

Target both support & communication

Better matching the need to the service in this way, helps demonstrate that much-needed care pathway approach, while also ensuring better outcomes through more targeted support.

Phil Mullen, Managing Director UK & Europe, LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell – a provider of total wellbeing services, including an EAP – explains how an EAP can help as part of this care pathway: “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues and financial instability increases or becomes a concern for more and more people, the associated worries and anxieties will likely increase.

“Connecting with counselling support to learn effective coping strategies to manage the mental impacts on financial stress is key to maintaining health and wellness. Organisations can provide critical support to their employees and their families by providing 24/7/365 access to quality mental health support from trusted, quality providers through an EAP.”

Meanwhile, Matthew Allen, Director of Financial Education at Close Brothers, agrees that the pandemic has emphasised the need for a joined-up approach, which has seen “financial wellbeing take an equal place alongside the physical and mental health pillars of any comprehensive wellbeing strategy”.

He adds: “We have proactively supported our clients in ensuring employees are aware of the extensive financial education programmes we provide, to help make informed decisions around their personal finances – regardless of their age, career stage or wealth level.

“Unfortunately, a number of companies have had to make the difficult decision to restructure their workforce, and we have been at hand to provide bespoke presentations for those affected; helping support them at such a difficult time. Nobody knows how long the effects of the pandemic will be felt for, but what we do know is that we’ll continue to be there for our clients and their employees.”

If you read nothing else, read this:

  • As with all aspects of wellbeing, there’s no ‘plug in and play’ solution when it comes to financial wellbeing.

  • Work with your providers and brokers to design a holistic wellbeing strategy: one that much better aligns your existing benefits and services into care pathways.

  • Investigate what embedded services come with your existing insurances – and whether your provider would be willing to help you fund any much-needed wellbeing services - anything from EAPs and financial education to mental health training and virtual GP services.

Find out more about Generali

1 Money & Pension Service, Impacts of Covid-19 on Financial Wellbeing, June 2020 https://moneyandpensionsservice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Covid19-impact-on-financial-wellbeing-in-the-UK.pdf

2 Aon, UK benefits and trends 2020 survey, https://www.aon.com/unitedkingdom/employee-benefits/resources/videos/2020-uk-benefits-and-trends-webinar-videos.jsp

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Generali UK provides Group Life Assurance, Group Income Protection - plus added-value wellbeing services - to the UK employees of multinational clients. Generali UK is also pioneering Wellbeing Investment Matching, helping clients fund discrete, tailored wellbeing initiatives where a need has been identified.

Access to a range of multinational pooling and captive solutions is available via: Generali Employee Benefits Network (GEB), and a range of non-life coverages is available via Generali Global Corporate & Commercial.