The Workplace: Financial wellbeing

GuyFor many, the distraction of debt or the unimaginable ability to save is a real problem. In fact, the ‘many’ is actually 90% of those aged under 30, according to a recent FCA research paper. Broadly speaking that’s also the age profile of those who work for us.

Yet what I see every week is the subject of financial health being ignored, maybe unintentionally but nonetheless ignored. Not just in recruitment businesses, but companies full stop.

Imagine the people who work for you not sleeping how they should, or waiting to be paid a week after the last pay day. It can’t be a good equation for performance and productivity, and it’s certainly not good for those individuals who have this anxiety over money.

These are exactly the reasons we should acknowledge debt and its subsequent unspoken pressures and do something about it. The option of suffering in silence should be no more. Not least because it is causing a rise in absenteeism, with the same FCA report calculating that there are examples of staff failing to turn up at all.

I turned up to work but in the early part of my career I was certainly in that camp... no one helped me when I would have loved some help. I stumbled from one month to the next, something I want to help my people avoid.

There are countless examples of businesses approaching their employees’ health and physical wellbeing but few where financial wellbeing is taken seriously. This is where Darwin Recruitment stands out, offering its people independent financial advice through one-to-one confidential meetings.

So what can we do? We can follow Darwin’s approach or remove the traditional payslip in favour of a more sophisticated breakdown of current and future earnings. We have found that by offering monthly salary deductions in exchange for direct transfers into an ISA, it has encouraged 20% of our people to now have monthly savings, whilst also being used to cut credit card debt.

Our Mortgage Fund has seen five people buy a house in the last year, with 42 others on the scheme – a project that I would encourage us all to follow. London house prices are 13.5 times the average salary after all.

Of course it’s great that recruitment companies are creating workspaces that are fun and inspiring, however after a few games of pool or table tennis, reality soon returns, with your mind wandering back to the monthly financial pressures. Why not offer your people interest-free loans so they can counteract this month’s worry about money? It means they know they can come to you and they’re much less likely to fall down the rabbit hole of pay-day loans.

We don’t have to look to Silicon Valley for innovation, from Facebook’s baby grants to Google’s spousal support, we, ourselves, are creative enough an industry to think of new ideas. In fact, travel ticket loans have become the most common benefits for London residents… so why not extend this to other areas? Our financial support to first time parents is invaluable, we have been told.

What is interesting is that although a large majority of companies don’t offer any financial assistance, it’s not for a lack of caring. It’s for a lack of understanding what to do. Maybe as an industry we can change this.

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