We all know that worries of all sorts can have a lasting effect on our mental health. And poor mental health can affect our performance at work, and affect our interactions with people around us and our behaviour as a whole.
At present, the prevailing financial situation around us means that many of our employees and colleagues are under financial stress. Stress can cause people to have sleepless nights, feel anxiety, and causes an inability to fully focus on routine tasks.
As employers and managers, there are some measures we can take to help our staff manage their financial well-being. Here are some resources you can use to create a culture of financial wellness at work.
Open up Mental Health Discussions
How are our finances and mental health linked?
As a nation, we are shy about discussing personal issues at work. Financial responsibilities aside, general mental stressors are seen as taboo. Make such discussions normal and encourage other managers and supervisors to include stress and financial difficulties in discussions with staff.
Having difficulties coping in the current challenging economic times is not something to be ashamed of. This should be communicated to all managers and down to their reporting staff.
Discussing mental health issues also means educating yourself about indicators of financial stress. Knowing the symptoms makes it easier to help people out proactively, without waiting for people to worsen.
The symptoms of mental health problems, like irritability, difficulty in managing common tasks and make comprehending and communicating challenging. This eventually rolls into bigger problems like loss of sleep, poor concentration, and reduced motivation.
Poor handling at work can make dealing with stress more difficult. As managers, we can
Improve or at least support the mental wellbeing of the workforce. This pays off in the long run as employee productivity, and financial resilience is better sustained. A workplace that contributes to good mental health can mean people have an easier time balancing their finances and their wellbeing.
Financial Wellness Activities to Support Employee Financial Well-being
The results of Financial Wellbeing Programs include less absenteeism. With better attendance and fewer external distractions, (due to less time spent managing personal financial matters at work), there are improved levels of productivity among employees.
While increasing salaries and adding benefits are of great help to employees, it is not always possible to increase salaries. In any situation, it pays off to have employees programs that encourage them to understand the value of their reward package and how to maximise their take-home pay.
Make sure Employees are Educated about tax-savings options and benefits
With most employees now falling under the tax net, many aren’t aware of how to claim exemptions, file for claims and how to become filers. Offer all staff tax guidance, and how to claim exemptions and benefits.
Make sure that existing benefit plans offered to staff are not adversely impacted by the stricter taxation rules and try to negotiate better terms in case there is any impact. Shop around for better deals and see if you can get anything better or an additional scheme for lower cadre tax-paying employees.
Explore the tax benefits for the business of contributing to employees’ funds, and anything that is enough to cover the additional taxes would be a win-win. Again, make sure employees know how much taxes and benefits work so that they can take advantage of the benefits to lower their taxable income and can save for future expenses.
Offer Employees Financial Wellness Guidance
Personalized guidance during tax filing season can help employees is learning about tax filing, and helps them learn about managing their money. If you don’t have the skilled resources available, start by gauging employee interest by offering an on-site financial planning seminar on topics like budgeting, dollar-cost averaging, asset allocation and retirement planning.
Explore Employee Discount Program
A practical way to help employees manage their finances is by offering them company-negotiated deals and discounts on car and home insurance, technology purchases and even local buys (this depends on which industry you are in and what you can efficiently negotiate).
Some businesses take such measures further through a voluntary employee purchase program, which lets their staff buy household items, educational services and even fixed assets like houses and cars through payroll deduction options. These financial wellness activities help employees take control of their finances by setting spending limits.
There is little to lose for the business, and such measures help to keep employees motivated and increase their job engagement.
Build a Culture of Merit
Merit-based salaries, benefits, vacation, bonuses, etc., are always the best way to link your business goals with the financial goals of top performing employees. Because we see a positive correlation between stress and productivity, your most productive people may need a stress-relieving vacation free from any financial worries the most. Build loyalty with your best people or pay a far greater price.
While most medium and large businesses offer savings and insurance plans to their employees, a majority don’t offer tax or financial literacy training. Young employees, especially those just starting their professional need financial planning training.
Advantages of Supporting Financial Well-being
Most employees under the age of 25 want their employer to provide tax support, insurance and savings plans. Employees who feel stress from money management are eager to get help to improve their financial well-being.
As employers, we need to be aware of cost-of-living realities, especially for lower-tier employees. Cost-of-living adjustments account for increased living expenses due to inflation. They may alleviate stress and allow for more focus at work. Improving productivity and business performance.
When employees receive a realistic and market-based wage increase, their motivation levels go up to a significant level. Providing financial and non-financial benefits also shows employees that the organization cares about them as people, which inspires loyalty, and motivation.
When employees feel their employers care about their health and well-being, they are 38 per cent more engaged. Investing in financial well-being boosts the overall well-being of employees, increasing their health, productivity, and engagement.
Sadia Zaheer holds a Masters in Business Administration from IBA, Karachi. After working in several financial institutions in Client Management, Corporate Lending, Islamic Banking and Product Management she jumped careers to pursue a career in writing.
She is a Finance, Business and HR Development writer with four years of experience. She reads a lot and takes care of her multiple cats to remain calm.