Establishing a supportive business culture in which staff feel able to openly discuss money can be the first step in helping employees avoid financial problems. This is a strategy used by creative management consultancy B+A when it comes to promoting financial wellness among its 20 employees.
Andrew Missingham, chief executive officer at B+A, says: “We don’t have an explicit policy for this, however our people and projects manager is very good at listening out for this kind of thing. We also pay for every team member to have a life coach who they see every month, which gives them a forum to discuss financial issues, as well as other personal matters.”
Having this opportunity for openness as part of its core benefits provision sets a clear tone for B+A’s staff, and building a supportive culture has led to several notable instances in which the organisation has been able to find solutions for employees’ financial difficulties.
“On one occasion an employee refused a pay increase because it would take them into the threshold where they would have to repay their student loan and this would have impacted their finances at that stage,” Missingham explains. “We waited until the next pay rise, where the amount would be worthwhile, then backdated the raise.
“On another occasion, one employee had [their] bike stolen, seriously effecting [their] ability to get to work, so we gave [them] an ex gratia payment the same week to cover it.”
Beyond just addressing financial emergencies, B+A’s culture has empowered employees to take ownership and take the lead in helping others.
For example, in May 2019 a member of the team invited their fellow employees to attend a workshop that they had personally designed, inspired by Laura Whateley’s book Money. The session, entitled ‘stocks and shares, baby’, took place in the organisation’s office in London and aimed to demystify and de-stigmatise financial concepts and language.
“It was an excellent event and led to some great conversations about financial pressure and how to manage it,” says Missingham. “With the right culture, people will feel safe enough to seek help early enough to avoid serious financial problems.”