Mental Health strategy | How to simplify financial wellbeing

How to simplify financial wellbeing

By Tracey Ward, Head of Business Development & Marketing at Generali UK Employee Benefits

Half (50%) of HR attendees at our recent webinar with Close Brothers Asset Management, said that financial wellbeing does not form part of their wider wellbeing strategy.

Yet somewhat contradictory, nearly all (88%) said that financial wellbeing had moved up their organisation’s priority list over the last 12 months. So, what is the sticking point?

The one thing that everyone seems to agree on now is that financial and mental health are intrinsically linked. Money is a major source of stress for many, with one in five employees (21%) reporting they worry about finances at least once per day. And over two in five (42%) saying they have lost sleep due to money worries.1

The impact of the pandemic has piled on yet further pressure. Close Brothers’ research reveals that 42% of employees have reported an increase in financial anxiety in the last year. The pandemic has led to issues such as health problems (63%), distractions at work (39%) and relationship problems (21%).1

It stands to reason, therefore, that putting in place support for financial wellbeing should have a positive knock-on effect on mental wellbeing. So, why does it still sit apart – if it exists at all – from wellbeing per se in many organisations? Has it all just become over-complicated?

In its simplest term, financial wellbeing is all about spending less and saving more. It’s about directing any surplus funds to do one of three things: pay down debt; top up a short-term rainy-day fund; build long-term savings.

Doing financial wellbeing well involves strong education; equipping people to make their own decisions about matters that will look different for each and every one of us. It is a long-term change programme, and it will stand or fall on the success or otherwise of the communication and engagement that underpins the message.

The fact of the matter is that financial wellbeing looks different for everyone. So, focus squarely on ensuring employee understanding so that your people can make informed decisions relating to their own personal finances. Also, encourage a long-term view.

What should employer strategies look like?

  • Communication. Help reduce stigma surrounding money matters by nurturing a culture of openness and trust. So, as well as broad brush messages to all, consider also more customised messages according to interests and needs.

  • Education. Consider providing accessible tools and techniques to improve financial wellbeing awareness and understanding. Short content in Plain English via bitesize videos, live seminars and webinars, online hubs etc.

  • Partnerships. Consider partnerships with financial education providers to offer programmes that make it easier for employees to save. Consider those that are qualified and regulated to provide further one-to-one support if appropriate, knowing your employees are accessing the most accurate information.

  • Proactivity. Be proactive in offering easily accessible debt management support services. For example, via Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs). Also, by signposting to external support where relevant, such as Step Change, The Money Advice Service and the Financial Conduct Authority. Also, where a specific need is identified – such as financial education - speak to your group income protection provider, who might be able to provide funding support for such initiatives from their specialist wellbeing providers or your chosen provider.

  • Flexibility. Flexible work arrangements generally allow for better contributions from all, though may be particularly beneficial to those with caring responsibilities or who are struggling with mental health issues.

  • Finger on the pulse. It is important employers and line managers keep updated on national government decisions regarding financial support and changes in taxation for example and are able to offer appropriate updates to their people.

To receive a link to Close Brothers / Generali UK’s 30-minute webinar recording, please email [email protected].

Find out more about Generali

Close Brothers, Changing Trends Research 2020,

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Generali UK Employee Benefits

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.