Over the past two days, we have been busy talking to many HR leaders at the NSW HR Leadership Summit about financial wellbeing within a workplace context
Bringing together over 100 HR leaders from different industries, the NSW HR Leadership Summit provides a platform to exchange ideas, innovations and challenges to better prepare for tomorrow’s workplace demands.
And what we’ve learned from our conversations is that employers are fast becoming aware of the issue of employee financial wellbeing, and also the important role and responsibility an organisation can take to help their employees achieve financial wellbeing.
“Financial wellbeing is when a person is able to meet expenses and has some money left over, is in control of their finances and feels financially secure, now and in the future.” – Understanding Financial Wellbeing within the Australian Context, CSI.edu.au
Studies have shown that employees face many financial worries which their employers are completely unaware of. This financial stress leads to absenteeism, lack of focus, lack of morale and reduced productivity at work.
Employers may wish to genuinely advocate for the health and wellbeing of employees – but at the end of the day, financial wellbeing is important for the bottom line as well. In fact, the cost of financial stress and poor financial wellbeing for business is a staggering $47.2 billion a year.
“What we’ve found is that many employers are offering staff benefits that address physical wellbeing – such as gym memberships – and yet, the research shows that mental health is a much greater employee concern and also has a greater impact on their performance at work,” said Ironfish Financial Wellbeing Program Co-Ordinator, Xiao Houghton.
“Our Financial Wellbeing Program is designed to fill this gap and help more Australians take ownership of their finances so they feel less stressed at work and at home and can perform at their best in all aspects of life.”
It is widely acknowledged that the journey to financial wellbeing starts with education. A WSSA (Workplace Super Specialists Australia) study for example, showed that financial literacy has a direct effect on overall financial wellbeing. Ie it’s not only about how much money an employee is earning, it’s also about knowing how to manage it.
Similarly, a CSI Financial Wellbeing study recommends financial educators to identify aspects of people’s lives that can be controlled “such as positive financial behaviours like managing debt, saving, and setting goals for the future” as being a key stepping stone to achieving financial wellbeing.
And yet financial education is notably lacking – it is not taught in schools, or the workplace – and therefore an individual’s financial education is completely dependent on social, familial or community structures and resources. And in this context, it forms part of the conversation around workplace inclusion and diversity as well.
At Ironfish we’re proud of our workplace culture which promotes financial literacy, goal setting, investment and alternative income pathways, and positive support and encouragement in reaching personal milestones.
We’ve learned from experience that promoting staff financial wellbeing can help employers make a meaningful contribution to their employee’s working lives and beyond. Employers will also reap the rewards of a more engaged workforce who have new or renewed clarity and focus in their pathway forward both in terms of career and overall finances.
We look forward to working with our Financial Wellbeing partners in the upcoming year to make some positive changes in the lives of so many Aussie workers.