Employers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of talking to their employees about their finances, however, taking the initial steps towards beginning these conversations can often be difficult.
56% of UK adults said their finances are now the greatest cause of stress in their lives, while over a fifth (23%) admitted to losing sleep as a result of financial anxieties. This highlights how important it is to start these conversations.
Talking to a manager or employer about concerns regarding paying bills or affording day-to-day essentials can lift a heavy weight from employees’ shoulders and get the ball rolling on how they can begin to address the problem.
Operate an open-door policy
This will help to reassure your employees that you are not only available at specific times, but there to provide support whenever they need it and feel comfortable sharing financial concerns.
Ensuring that you provide a safe, comfortable and confidential environment for your employees to talk to you is vital. Some members of your team are likely to feel embarrassed by their financial situation, and may not want other people in the workplace to hear their problems. A recent Mintago survey revealed that only ⅖ of UK adults surveyed had spoken to their friends, family or colleagues about their money worries in 2022, despite the cost-of-living crisis bringing more serious financial problems for many.
By operating an open-door policy, employees are less likely to feel the gap between themselves and you as their employer and may find you more approachable. By letting your team know that they are actually invited to speak to you about their finances, they are less likely to feel that they are burdening you with any problems.
Be reassuring and practical
Even if an employee comes to you with a significant financial problem, it is important to be sensitive and rational when listening to them and offering any guidance. Some employees may not need or expect you to offer a solution, but may simply wish to offload to an impartial person and share their worries to feel less alone.
You mustn’t scare your employees with worrying facts and figures which may heighten their stress, but be honest and practical about how they move forward.
According to a 2020 PWC report, financial matters cause your employees more stress than all other factors combined. With this in mind, it is beneficial for you to consider how difficult it may be for your team to share details of their financial situation, and make them feel at ease and relaxed in your presence.
Suggest useful educational resources and tools
Often employees may want help managing their financial situation but do not know where to find this help. This is true for 33% of people who responded to Mintago’s recent survey.
By sharing knowledge of educational resources and useful contacts that could be helpful in different situations, employees can take actionable steps to tackle their issues head-on. You could consider compiling a directory of useful resources and contacts such as debt management charities (The average household debt in the UK stands at a record £15,400) and financial wellbeing platforms. If an employee comes to talk to you, you are then armed with information and can instantly provide them with access to helpful tools. Actively providing help to your employees can help to build a trusting relationship and make them more likely to confide in you in the future.
Support your team at different life stages
Members of your team may feel more financially stressed during certain times in their life. For example, purchasing a house, getting married or approaching retirement can cause anxiety and uncertainty. Having discussions with your wider team and individuals about these milestones and how important it is to share the burden is vital in creating an understanding and healthy workplace.
One idea is to regularly survey your employees, perhaps anonymously, to better understand what their financial situation is like at that moment and if they are dealing with any key events which can cause financial worries. This will help you to tailor company-wide discussions to suit the needs of your team.
You could also introduce regular team activities such as financial wellbeing expert talks to promote and raise awareness of the importance of good financial wellbeing. Holding frequent financial education sessions curated specifically for the needs of your workforce can help to keep the conversation going and remind employees to take stock of their own situation and reach out with any concerns.
People are far more likely to share financial information and any concerns with a relatable employer. By making it clear that you are not immune to financial burdens and have experienced these yourself, you are showing your team that what they may be going through is common and therefore, not unsolvable.
Sharing stories and experiences amongst your team can help them to feel at ease and know that you are approachable and can understand the struggles that they are facing.
In conclusion, there are many effective steps that you can take to better support your employee’s financial wellbeing and start a conversation with them about their finances. With 70% of people worried that their financial situation is going to deteriorate further in the future, there has never been a more appropriate time to get talking.