Face up to the provision of multi-site financial education

To limit inconvenience to its workers GlaxoSmithKline looks to provide financial education at all its sites, with a wide range of face-to-face programmes

Providing financial education in the workplace can be challenging if you have a large and diverse workforce with differing employee needs that is based across multiple sites, or you simply do not know where to begin or the type of information to provide.

The way that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has approached the topic is by setting ourselves clear objectives. We aim to offer employees financial education and advice throughout their careers, right from induction to retirement, enabling and empowering them to understand, appreciate and make informed decisions about the various elements of their remuneration package within the context of their wider financial circumstances.

It is good practice to make it as easy as possible for busy employees to access financial education by providing events, seminars or workshops at all site locations or tools that they can refer to for guidance. This saves them time and ensures they are supported in making benefits, pensions and savings decisions.

We have found that having a large, diverse workforce has meant that we need to make strategic decisions about the form that the financial education takes, because there will be varying degrees of demand. The types of programmes and tools provided include a range of face-to-face and web-based initiatives such as total reward induction modules, lunchtime financial presentations, basic and advanced financial and investment planning workshops, pre-retirement workshops, one-to-one meetings with advisers and monthly on-site financial surgeries.

To meet the needs of staff who cannot attend a face-to-face session, such as home workers or those employees who are based in the field, we provide presentations that can be downloaded from the GSK intranet. For our manufacturing sites, we work around complex shift patterns.

One of our key challenges is to ensure we consistently communicate and market our financial education programme to enable all employees’ access to some form of financial education wherever they are based. We use a wide range of communication channels to raise employee awareness of what is available such as posters, on-site notice boards, plasma screens, the intranet, articles in our pay and benefits newsletter, targeted emails to an employee’s inbox and HR cascades. It isn’t a case of ‘hoping’ that employees will sit up and take notice of what’s on offer. We need to work very hard at continually raising employee awareness and coming up with new ideas.

The earlier employees start planning their long-term financial future the better off they will be – however, getting started can seem daunting and no one wakes up in the morning thinking ‘I must sort out my finances and put some money into a pension’ – it’s usually ‘can I get the kids to school on time or, can I put a dent in my ‘to do’ list. For employees who have just started out in their careers, financial planning is not even on the radar and these are the ones that we have found need to be targeted with effective communication around the financial education programmes we run, because they are the ones who need the most help with issues such as the student loan and credit card debt.

Julie Skidmore is financial education and communications manager at GlaxoSmithKline


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Best practice tips

  • Begin with the end in mind – start with getting the basics right and evolve over time.

  • Understand what the key priorities are, for example, poor take up or participation in employee share plans or pension plans and employee understanding of the benefits programme.

  • Secure the buy in of key stakeholders (business and HR) – ideally, employee financial education should be an organisational objective. u Where possible, provide employees with access to a wide range of programmes and tools to meet their needs wherever they are based, including face-to-face and online communications.

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