Financial wellbeing is a major contributor to stress and the overall wellbeing of every employee – especially in 2020. With unpredictable lockdown restrictions and new countries added to travel quarantine lists at a moment’s notice, there’s never been a more appropriate time to acknowledge the personal financial issues experienced by your people.
We asked Outcomes First Group (voted a 2021 UK’s Best Workplace™ by their employees) to share some of their tools and practices used to help staff thrive financially during this uncertain time.
Q: How does your organisation define “financial wellbeing”?
Answers by Suzanne Robson, HR Director at Outcomes First Group.
A: "For us, financial wellbeing is having enough money to meet our individual needs. It’s about being in control of our finances and having the resources to help improve our financial wellness."
Q: How have you supported your employees’ financial wellbeing during COVID-19?
A: "We have an engagement portal, The Hub, which offers our employees discounts and cashback at hundreds of high street retailers. During lockdown, we saw the number of orders increase from 130 in March (£8,400) to 478 in July (£28,900)!
We also rewarded all our care workers a bonus payment and hope it went someway to show how grateful we are for their ongoing commitment, as well as supporting them financially.
Even though we didn’t furlough any staff, it’s likely some of our employees had partners who were furloughed and therefore their household income was probably reduced. It may have been a worrying time for some people, so I’m happy we were able to help."
"In addition, we have a partnership with Salary Finance who offer financial support, which includes loans, advances on earned pay, savings and financial education. This was particularly useful during the pandemic because they offered additional resources to educate employees about how to stay in control of their finances during Covid-19.
I’m thrilled that we have an added benefit that can truly support our colleagues when they need it! Nearly all (87%) of our employees have visited the Salary Finance platform. To date there have been 348 loan applications (100 of which were for debt consolidation and on average each employee saved £442 each); 36 employees opened a savings account and are actively saving month on month; and 221 people have requested a salary advance."
Q: What practices or policies have you put in place to help employees feel comfortable talking about their money concerns?
A: "It’s about keeping the door open and creating the right environment for conversations to take place. Our CEO leads by example – his door (albeit a metaphorical one right now) is also ‘open’ and he constantly asks employees to reach out to him with their questions and suggestions…and they do!
The Executive Team hosts engagement days, ‘surgeries’, and ‘stop, start, continue’ sessions. The purpose of all these interventions is to give our employees the opportunity to say what’s on their mind, including if that is a concern about money."
Q: How will you sustain your wellbeing culture when employees eventually return to work?
A: "Maintaining a culture of wellbeing and demonstrating our commitment is at the top of our engagement agenda – and that’s not just because of the pandemic. We opened a clinical support service accessible for colleagues to discuss all matters of concern, including their wellbeing. The service is operated by the Group’s Clinical Team which includes Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech & Language Therapists who provide:
- Telephone advice;
- Provision of information sheets and links to helpful resources;
- Signposting to community services;
- A scheduled video conference;
- and online training sessions.
The services are provided flexibly and offered out of office hours and at weekends.
We have also partnered with Able Futures who provide a service to help employees with mental health difﬁculties to perform well in work.
We’ll continue to provide the appropriate PPE and safe systems of working to ensure our employees feel safe. The Salary Finance benefit and The Hub discounts will also continue. And I’m also pleased to announce that we will soon launch a cycle to work scheme, which will mean our employees can save money on a bikes and equipment; reduce their need to travel on public transport; and of course, help with their fitness.
An important element of understanding what else we can do is to continue to listen to our employee’s opinions and responding to them. Giving our employees a voice makes them feel valued and appreciated."
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