Nine in 10 companies concerned about employee financial wellbeing

Kim Kaveh
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 Just  half of employers have a wellbeing strategy in place for their employees
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Just half of employers have a wellbeing strategy in place for their employees

Some 88% of employers are concerned about the financial issues their employees are struggling with, but only half have a wellbeing strategy, according to research.

In a survey by Barnett Waddingham of 243 UK firms in July, 37% said they were very concerned, and 51% were somewhat concerned, 8% were not concerned, while 4% were unsure.

The consultancy found that the smaller employers and those in the recruitment sector were the least concerned. Some 20% of companies had 1-49 employees, 10% had 50-99 employees, and 4% worked in HR. The other 66% had more than 100 employees, up to 5,000.

The same survey found that just over a quarter of employers have defined financial wellbeing strategies that include provision of financial benefits other than a pension. Some 22% had a strategy in place but as a standalone feature or standalone benefits, and 21% did not have a strategy in place but were looking to introduce one in the near future.

However, 28% of employers had no plans to introduce a financial wellbeing strategy. Over a third of these respondents said there is no need to provide guidance to their employees, and 62% said their employees do not look to them to provide financial guidance.

Some 3% of the total pool of respondents were unsure whether their organisation had a financial wellbeing strategy.

Under half (43%) said they thought future workplace savings vehicles would be more like savings accounts, in terms of being more flexible and accessible during a member's lifetime.

Barnett Waddingham surveyed 200 anonymous organisations representing UK plc and the public sector, and 43 of the consultancy's own clients.

Investment returns

Respondents were also asked whether their organisation has a formal method to measure the return on investment of financial benefits or interventions available to its employees.

Some 15% said they did, and used a recognised consultancy/third party to assist them. Just under one in five also said they did, but used an internally developed measurement process.

Meanwhile, 28% did not have a method to measure return of investment, but would be willing to consider a consultancy/third party, and a quarter did not have a method in place and were not interested in measuring this in the future. Some 13% were unsure.

Commenting on the findings, Barnett Waddingham partner Paul Leandro said: "Obtaining board level buy-in is a priority for HR and pension managers, but proving the value of having a well thought-out financial wellbeing strategy which provides a tangible return on investment is key to this. Only 50% of organisations actually have measures in place to address this.

"Until financial wellbeing enters the board level agenda, and overarching strategies are agreed and monitored, employees will continue to receive employer paid benefits that are not effective at helping them with the financial issues they face today or tomorrow … or the ‘one day'."

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