EXCLUSIVE: An integrated approach is the future for financial wellbeing strategies


Employee Benefits Connect 2018: Employers are looking for an integrated financial wellbeing strategy that features both employee benefits products and financial education.

Speaking as part of the wellbeing stream at Employee Benefits Connect 2018 on Wednesday 28 February, Monica Kaila (pictured), co-founder and director at Neyber, and Nick Burns, chairman of the advisory board at Neyber, highlighted that the employers they are working with are seeking an integrated approach to financial wellbeing, which does not just include siloed products being offered by employers in isolation, but instead embraces a combination of both employee benefits and financial education. Kaila said: “Most of the organisations that we’re working with now don’t just want to have that product approach in relation to financial wellbeing.”

The education component of a financial wellbeing strategy is also a trend gaining more traction, noted Kalia, as employees are seeking information on how to make themselves more financially literate. This education experience is most commonly being deployed as a mix of both digital formats as well as face-to-face sessions, which tailors to employees wanting easy access to their education, as well as that human element when it comes to increasing understanding around a potentially more complex subject matter. “That’s a key gap in the UK where actually people lack that basic understanding around their finances, and that’s another area where I think it’s really important for the employer to put in place strategies to support. When we think about education, education done badly results in zero engagement. Education done well actually [changes behaviours],” Kaila explained.

Financial wellbeing strategies are also being blended into over-arching employee wellbeing approaches, to sit alongside measures and supports for both physical and mental health. “Organisations are looking for not just a product, they’re actually looking for a whole strategy and that strategy is really about understanding what the needs of that employee population is, but also how that strategy fits in with all of the other aspects around wellbeing. We know that mental wellbeing and physical wellbeing are far more evolved in the workplace, but actually in order to have a really deep and meaningful engagement strategy, [employers] need to think about how [an employee assistance programme] links with any financial wellbeing strategy, how [a] mental wellbeing strategy maybe links in to it as well and so I think it’s really clear for us that organisations really want [an] integrated approach to wellbeing.”

Furthermore, data from an employee assistance programme (EAP) and return-to-work interviews can also be used to help HR professionals build a business case for financial wellbeing, as well as help track the potential return on investment (ROI). Staff surveys can also be used to gather data to help employers understand their workforce population. Statistics such as this can demonstrate that employees across any age, any pay band and any gender can be impacted by financial worries and stress. “This is happening across different salary bands, different age groups, different genders, different geographies and so this is not just an isolated, you know just pick that crowd of people, that lot are going to be in trouble. It’s definitely not the case, so we’re seeing this being a much broader issue,” Burns said.

From a communication perspective, Burns noted that segmenting communications by generation, or even by gender, is set to be incredibly effective in relation to financial wellbeing strategies of the future. This works to acknowledge the different life stages of employees, and recognises that baby boomers with their own homes will have very different financial agendas to generation rent. This, in turn, increases employee engagement with the strategy as it feels more relevant to individuals. Burns added: “I’m absolutely convinced that that’s the way it’s going to go. People are going to want to consume [communications] differently.”

Different sectors will also need different components to its financial wellbeing strategy, according to Kaila. For example, a charity with a lower benefits budget may want to consider on-site workshops as an effective option, however organisations that have a majority offline workforce population may wish to engage with monthly webinars or line manager training that is cascaded to employees.

Kaila and Burns concluded their session, titled ‘The employer view on what the future of financial wellbeing looks like’, by summarising what good financial wellbeing looks like. For Kaila, this is ensuring that employees feel supported by the employer with regards to financial matters and that they do not feel isolated. Employees should also have access to products and education as part of an overall financial wellbeing strategy. “It is that notion of feeling more supported,” she said. “so if employees say ‘I feel that the organisation has helped me in terms of not just financial wellbeing, but other wellbeing initiatives’. I think that to me is the measure of success, that actually people don’t feel isolated, don’t feel that they’ve got no-one to talk to, they don’t feel like they don’t have access to products or information. That support and that feeling of support is really important.”