Employers need to target different generations with financial education

The varying financial priorities of different generations in the workplace create challenges for employers when engaging these groups with financial education.

According to the report Talking about my generation: exploring the benefits engagement challenge, published in September by Barclays Corporate and Employer Solutions (C&ES) and Dr Paul Redmond, director of employability and educational opportunities at Liverpool University, 53% of Baby Boomers prioritise saving for retirement, while 41% of Generation X are focused on paying off a mortgage and 30% of Generation Y are concentrating on paying off unsecured debt.

But how employers communicate financial benefits to employees does not correlate with how staff prefer to receive such messages, the research found. Across all generations, email (45%) and an intranet site (41%) are the most common ways that employers communicate with employees, but staff prefer access to information and guidance on a one-to-one basis.

Katharine Photiou, head of workplace savings at Barclays C&ES, said: “Generation Y are brought up on the internet and are used to doing everything online, so you would assume you should educate them and communicate with them online.

“But the research showed a substantially different viewpoint on this. When making key financial decisions, Generation Y prefer face-to-face.

“It does make sense. These youngsters have not made major financial decisions in their lives before. They have not bought houses and have not invested in pensions, so they value the ability to talk to someone face to face about their benefits and their finances.”

Global law firm Withers launched a face-to-face financial education programme for its employees in September. The first in a series of monthly sessions focused on its group personal pension (GPP) plan. Future sessions will cover the auto-enrolment process and the annuity market.

A new financial management platform, to be launched by Lorica Employee Benefits, enables employees to combine personal finance-related products and services, such as credit cards, bank accounts, mortgage payments and standing orders, with their employee benefits.

The platform recognises when different triggers are activating for an employee and automatically invites them to financial education seminars based on that trigger.

Tobin Murphy-Coles, commercial director at Lorica Employee Benefits, said: “We are using the platform to merge financial worlds together and then segment people and invite them along to the appropriate financial education sessions that are right for them at that moment.”