Anglian Water became the first winner of the WSB Award for Financial Education Initiative of the Year. Owain Thomas explains its approach.
- Comprehensive scheme provides financial education, loyalty saving scheme and on-site banking
- Project forms part of a wider employee-wellbeing strategy including physical and mental health
- Participation has continued to grow with more than 60% of staff saving regularly
Anglian Water has taken a three step approach to its employee financial education and wellbeing programme.
Its aim is to create a benefit that is valued and appropriate across the whole workforce irrespective of where employees are in their current financial wellbeing.
Head of reward Sally Purbrick explains the move was part of a bigger plan. "We are considering the whole of employee wellbeing - with financial wellbeing being a part of that," says Purbrick.
"Traditionally organisations have put a lot more time and effort in to physical and mental health rather than financial. It wasn't really an area that was understood a few years ago. So we started from an open minded place, knowing we wanted to help the financial wellbeing of employees, but not quite what that solution would be," she adds.
Three key elements form the Love Every Drop project - a loyalty savings scheme with company performance related bonus, a financial education programme and on-site banking services.
This allows the organisation to educate staff about the importance of managing finances correctly, provide and encourage a savings culture, and also facilitate the ability to conduct more specific financial transactions on-site.
"The most successful area is our loyalty savings scheme," continues Purbrick.
"This gives employees a very easy way to get into the habit of regular saving direct from salary. Our dropout rate is very low and the vast majority of employees who sign up at the beginning of a three year period make 36 deposits over that period.
"So it's a really good way to get into savings and then at the end they receive that added boost that should the company hit the relevant target they get a bonus on top of their initial savings," she adds.
The benefit to Anglian Water of this scheme is crystal clear: first in improving the financial wellbeing of employees and helping get them to a better place.
Second it boosts staff retention and aligns the outcomes of the business - if the business does well then also the employees can benefit from that as well.
"To compliment that we have the on-site workplace masterclasses which are a number of seminars on a range of topics where employees can choose what will be of benefit to them and come along," says Purbrick.
"These help staff understand potentially difficult topics of personal finance but do not in any way push products. It's about understanding to manage your money the best you can in terms of your situation."
The team has been successfully growing engagement and attendances took off significantly in the last series of seminars - a sign the employees are valuing the sessions.
The third element is the on-site banking services from scheme provider Barclays. This means any staff who are Barclays customers are able to arrange meetings about specific topics and conduct other day-to-day banking at a set time without needing to leave work.
And all this is supported by an employee assistance programme should staff find themselves in a financial position they can't understand how to get out of and a hardship loan facility to help people with a temporary blip in their financial situation to get back on track a little quicker.
The results from the scheme have been impressive with more than 2,500 employees out of a total workforce of 4,000 signing up for the savings scheme.
At present employees are saving around £3m and typical loyalty bonuses at the end of the three year term are up to £1,000.
"Others may say we've done an awful lot, which is great, but this compliments the work we put into our physical and mental health. It's a strand as part of our wellbeing campaign, rather than driven just from an employee benefits perspective. Hopefully that draws a benefit to a whole range of employees, not just one particular group," Purbrick concludes.
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