EXCLUSIVE: London City Airport creates diverse financial wellbeing programme

Employee Benefits Live 2019: London City Airport has created a programme that address many aspects of employees’ financial wellbeing.

Addressing delegates at Employee Benefits Live 2019 at ExCel London, Michael Spiers, chief people officer at London City Airport, explained that the programme was introduced in recognition that employees required support around financial capability, and that financial stress can impact safety in the workplace and the overall wellbeing of staff.

The employer carried out internal research with Barclays Bank into the financial wellbeing and resilience of the airport’s employees and found, for example, that 22% were living from one payday to the next, double Barclays’ benchmark data of 11%.

Spiers explained that the airport looks at financial wellbeing in four quadrants, and has introduced a suite of benefits to address each.

The first section addresses pure debt issues, perhaps due to access to credit in the past which has now become unmanageable to repay. The employer has therefore introduced a debt consolidation scheme, provided by Neyber.

Second, the organisation looks at financial education. Spiers explained that for a lot of employees, the airport is their first job and they have little knowledge of managing budgets.

“For us, the education was a really important quadrant because the two have to go together. If you take the loan solution, for example, it doesn’t provide long-term solutions unless it comes with a good education.

“Now, as part of our onboarding process and our induction, we run financial education workshops and we go through how to manage pay,” Spiers said.

Another aspect is savings; the airport has introduced a scheme which helps employees to save using gamification methods.

Finally, London City Airport has introduced a payday loan scheme, which enables staff to access part of their salary before payday.

Spiers explained that, to win the business case for investing in financial wellbeing benefits, he had to be clear about providing education alongside borrowing.

“We didn’t just launch [the loan scheme], we launched financial education and were very clear with employees that we were [providing] something that would support them, but that it wasn’t just about getting a loan, it was understanding how to manage their money,” he said.

London City Airport also provides a hardship loan to employees, but since it introduced its suite of financial wellbeing benefits five years ago, it has not had to give out a hardship loan.

“Financial wellbeing is a factor at every single job level,” said Spiers. “The solutions may be different: the loan may not be the right thing, or it might not be about financial education, but [we are] not doing this just for the lowest paid in our organisation, it’s for every level.”