Martin Upton: Employers have a responsiblity to support employees with financial education

34, ColumnThere are many examples of benevolent employers that have attended to their employees’ welfare beyond the work place. Joseph Rowntree and the Cadbury family are exemplars of such benevolence, providing housing, health services and pension schemes for their employees. But when it comes to their employees’ welfare, should contemporary businesses be providing general financial education to their staff?

Research published by Secondsight in October 2014 found that 67% of the working population receive no financial education from their employers. Only 20% of employees had a coherent financial plan and a third claimed to have only a vague idea about money management. Half of employers surveyed said that their staff have asked for help with financial education.

Providing help would be good citizenship but could it make good business sense too? Money worries are the most common cause of keeping people awake at night. Certainly financial competence reduces the risk of getting into money problems and is therefore conducive to greater productivity by reducing stress levels.

However, many organisations do not have the resources and skills to provide such training and they may be wary about intruding into their employees’ financial circumstances.

Martin Upton is director at the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance, the Open University Business School