Recently I met a relative of mine who has joined a technology company and she was gushing about the myriad employee benefits that the company offers. From free commute, food and discounted merchandise to body massages as well! I was intrigued so asked “What do they have for employee financial health? Do they also teach new joinees how to manage their finance? Well, she drew quite a blank!
To my mind a company which is so high on employee engagement and well being should equally be responsible towards employee financial health. Especially a company with a large percentage of first entrants in the work force. Sadly this is not the case in most organizations. Most of them organize a tax payment helpdesk around June in the name of financial awareness!
Financial stress impacts many facets of an employee’s life. Employees admit that financial worries have impacted their health, relationships, productivity, and time away from work. Its time companies wake up to making financial awareness part of learning and development goals of the employee. Basics of managing your own finance should be a mandatory training for junior and middle managers. An employee’s financial well being is in the best interest of the employer as well.
There are many reasons why HR does not give the due importance to employee financial health.
Belief: HR feels that employees will already have their own advisors and don’t need advice.
Reality: All sections of employees need trusted and unbiased advice. Junior employees need professional advice so that they can be more discerning of the freely given informal advice in the family circle. Most mid and senior level executives hardly have time to spend on their portfolios and don’t mind a second opinion
Belief: They feels that finance is a personal matter and company should not really intrude
Reality: Employee financial health impacts companies as any other form of stress and personal upheaval does. It leads to distraction and loss of productivity. Employees appreciate non-binding information and awareness.
Belief: People are adequately informed.
Reality: In my interactions with the salaried class the most baffling finding has been that they all work very hard and are very diligent on checking on their monthly salary credits but how to make this money work hard is something they are not aware.
Companies can be more proactive with financial wellness programs. Here’s how.
Make it mandatory: While most mandatory trainings are attended mechanically, my experience of the same, still there is some impact. Also if you can manage to get an engaging trainer your most difficult hurdle is crossed.
Give learning credits: This could help in generating more interest among the junior employees, and get them to participate in the programs.
Make it Cool: HR could promote financial wellness as a cool and funky thing, the way marathons are promoted. Regular contests, quizzes, and financial clinics should be held for employees.
Make it relevant: There should be targeted programs for different bands in the organisation. Maybe getting the leadership team involved to lay emphasis on the benefits of financial wellness and show the way would be a good starting point.
Finally, with many junior level jobs getting automated, people wanting to retire and follow their dreams beyond 50, and jobs not easily available for people above 45 years, it is high time that employees think about being financially prepared. And employers can contribute to this by helping employees keep their costs down and optimising productivity. This will help reduce attrition and also increase employee loyalty.
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