HR Indaba Africa 2018: THRIVE gets companies to care about their employees' finances


Founder Frank Magwegwe believes this is one of the best ways to improve employee engagement. 

In the coming weeks and months, we will be chatting to all the HR Indaba partners, asking them why they are excited about the event and what they believe are the most important issues facing the profession. In this article, we speak to Frank Magwegwe, Founder of financial wellness company THRIVE.

What does THRIVE do?

We partner with companies to improve employee engagement by reducing financial stress on the workforce. We work with HR directors and wellness managers to develop solutions for addressing the challenge of financial distress among employees. Research has shown that there is a direct link between employee engagement and employee financial stress. An employee who is stressed about their finances is less likely to be fully engaged in their work because they spend a considerable amount of time at work worrying about their finances.

Thrive’s approach is customised for the employer and personalised for the employee. How we work is that we go into a company and do various assessments of employees’ indebtedness, level of financial knowledge, relationship with money and overall financial health. After that, we develop solutions specific to the employees’ needs and employers’ people strategy, which can range from financial education workshops to online financial wellness platforms, which we facilitate on the employer’s behalf.

Put simply, we are passionate and absolutely obsessed with enhancing employee engagement by reducing employee financial stress. 

What were you doing before you started this company and what drove you to pursue this venture?

What drove me to set up the company was the continuing increase in the level of financial stress among employees and its impact on employee engagement and the overall employee productivity in our country. For example, according to data from the National Credit Regulator’s March 2018 Credit Bureau Monitor, almost 40% ( 10 million)consumers are in arrears with their accounts. Thrive’s own research shows that almost 75% of employees are broke before the next payday.

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The cost of living has risen quite significantly over the last few years and that has only exacerbated the problem. Now, given the recent increase in VAT, petrol prices, municipal rates and transport costs, things are more likely to get worse for consumers before they get better.

Before I started the company, I held various executive positions at Momentum including COO of Momentum Wealth and  CEO of Momentum’s middle market segment business. During this time,  I realised that one of the levers that can be used to improve employee engagement is financial wellness. Our research at Thrive shows that it is still considered a taboo for companies, particularly in corporate South Africa, to get involved in their employees' finances. They think, "why should we get involved in their personal financial affairs?" But, during my time at Momentum, I realised that one could really differentiate their employee value proposition by showing employees that the organisation cares about their financial health.

What, in your opinion, is the number one challenge facing the HR profession at the moment?

If you look at our business and the problems we're trying to tackle, it follows that we believe the number one challenge within the HR profession is employee engagement. Engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation, and put discretionary effort into their work. Employees who are passionate about their jobs get to work with a spring in their step and will always put in discretionary effort into their work. Gallup research shows that employee engagement is very low across the globe including in South Africa. most At Thrive, we believe that sustainable engagement in a workforce is only possible when the overall wellness of the workforce is prioritised.  We believe that helping employees find peace of mind regarding their finances is a key component of overall employee wellness

The other challenge is Millennials and how to manage them. They have such a different outlook to work and many companies find it hard to keep them engaged. In the short-term, this affects turnover and talent management costs because companies constantly must train new people or poach talent from other organisations when millennials exit the organisation. In the long term, this is a trend that could spell disaster for a lot of companies that are going to struggle with a leadership vacuum due to their inability to keep millennials in their organisations and the fact in the years ahead, most companies’ clients will be millennials 


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