Are your employees experiencing financial stress and what are you doing about it?

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A closer look at how organisations are aiding employees with financial wellness.

Rising costs for things like housing, transportation, food, and electricity are causing more South Africans to feel financially stressed during these tough economic times.

Part of the 2022 Floatpays State of Employee Wellbeing Barometer research looked at how employees feel about their work environment and how their employers support their wellbeing. It found that financial wellness is a crucial factor affecting overall wellbeing and job performance. Surprisingly, one in five participants in the study reported high levels of financial stress.

Employers are now faced with the growing challenge of helping their employees manage their finances.

Norah Sehunoe, executive head of human capital at Santam, says the financial services group proactively addresses the issue of financial stress among employees. “We have partnered with an external service provider to offer financial wellness solutions and they range from individual financial coaching to group coaching clinics for employees. Over and above financial education we also have an internal programme that offers discounts to various shopping experiences and have even recently launched a service where our employees can buy alternative power solutions (because of loadshedding struggles) at a discounted rate.”

Similarly Donald Khumalo, FNB human capital executive, says the banker has put some measures in place to mitigate the possible financial stress employees face. “We've proactively rolled out money management masterclasses to help our employees with financial planning and resilience, which goes a long way in minimising financial pressure.”

In addition to providing tools to help employees manage their money better, Donald says FNB has also implemented a holistic employee wellness programme that ensures that employee end-to-end psychosocial needs are looked after. “Things as basic as the ICAS programme, health with heart, physical health assessments, full medicals, onsite clinics in selected campuses, gyms, etc. form part of our efforts to deliver comprehensive employee assistance to ensure they can manage work-life demands with ease. To further help our employees manage their money better, we also provide unique employee value propositions, including helping people save through discounted interest rates in areas such as home loans, vehicle finance, and transactional accounts, to name a few. This is a critical component in retaining and attracting top talent in all our markets, including South Africa.”

Data-driven solutions

Norah says feedback and data are critical in assessing and monitoring the financial wellness of our workforce. At Santam, she says, they encourage open communication from employees either through direct managers or the HR team,

“We also run surveys specifically targeted at getting feedback from our employees on their wellness needs. The HR team always follows the survey with focus groups to unpack the results and do a deep dive on the emerging themes.”

Meanwhile Donald adds that through the nav»Money smart tool on the FNB App both employees and customers are aided to monitor their financial behaviour, budget appropriately, set savings goals, check their credit status, and spend less than they earn.

“Data gathered from that interaction is core to our ability to help and support not only employees, but also customers at large in a relevant manner.”

Managing money better

Charnel Collins, the CEO of National Debt Advisors, believes that employers can play a crucial role in alleviating financial stress among employees by offering financial education. She says: “Providing financial education can empower individuals, even those not in debt review, to better manage their finances.”

She suggest a employers do the following to get their workforce financially well:

Have employee financial literacy initiatives – Enhancing employees’ understanding of financial matters can empower them to take charge of their financial situations.

Foster a supportive workplace – Ensuring a safe work environment and regular check-ins with employees can help maintain their motivation and enable them to effectively manage financial stress.

Offer debt solutions – Equipping employees with financial knowledge for improved money management can reduce their dependence on debt, providing them with greater financial stability.

“We encourage employers to have open conversations with their employees on better money management and to help avoid debt traps. A financially secure employee is more likely to be engaged and productive in the workplace, and this makes for a happy work environment,” she concludes.

 

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