27 September 2023

Financial wellbeing now a workforce priority

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Dan Schawbel* says organisations who boost their financial wellbeing offers to workers are the ones who have the best chance of attracting and retaining talent during the Great Resignation.

With the Great Resignation showing no signs of slowing, employers continue to struggle with attracting and retaining talent.

One thing I’ve noted time and again is the need for organisations to offer a stronger employee value proposition, but there’s one new area that’s come into the spotlight recently: Financial wellbeing benefits.

These typically include educational tools and resources, financial solutions, and retirement and budget planning tools.

While many financial benefits have been around for some time, today’s empowered workers are demanding more (and better) benefits from their employers.

SoFi at Work, a leading financial wellbeing benefits partner of my company, has discovered that many employees are facing dire financial situations, partly due to the pandemic.

More than half said they were more stressed about their finances in 2021 than ever before, and just 49 per cent said they could handle a major unexpected expense right now.

Perhaps most worryingly for employers, employees reported they were spending more than nine hours a week at work dealing with their financial issues.

Over the next five years, nearly seven out of 10 workers said they’ll make major adjustments to their life plans due to their financial situation.

More than one-third of employees planned to push back their retirement — by six years on average.

Despite these alarming findings, the survey revealed that 2022 could be a turning point.

The vast majority of workers have financial goals for this year.

Some 77 per cent said taking control of their financial situation was a top priority for them, and 72 per cent were optimistic about making progress.

However, even though workers are highly motivated to improve their finances in 2022, many don’t feel equipped to do so.

So what exactly should employers do in helping their people achieve financial success?

Some 84 per cent of workers and 98 per cent of HR leaders agreed that employers should be responsible for employees’ financial wellbeing.

Around the same percentages believe that organisations should also be responsible for people’s financial literacy.

Unfortunately, many employers aren’t living up to these expectations.

Just 55 per cent of workers felt their employer cared about their financial wellness and less than half have learned a lot from their organisation’s financial resources,

Some 60 per cent wished their employer would do more to support their financial wellbeing.

When we asked employees what tools they’d like their organisation to offer, the responses revealed some eye-opening new preferences.

For example, 64 per cent of workers said they’d like their employer to offer an emergency savings fund and 60 per cent would appreciate home-ownership assistance.

Most notably, we found that 36 per cent of workers want the option to be paid in crypto-currency and 42 per cent would be open to receiving non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a performance reward.

There’s no question that the past two years have been enormously difficult for employees.

However, while much has been said and done around mental health, flexibility, and other benefits, it’s clear that some employers have missed an opportunity to help their workers.

There’s never been a better time for employers to prioritise financial wellbeing benefits.

It’s not just the right thing to do — it’s also a critical way to boost people’s health, productivity, and desire to stay with their organisation in the long run.

*Dan Schawbel is a bestselling author and Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, a research and advisory firm helping HR adapt to trends, drive performance and prepare for the future.

This article is part of his Workplace Intelligence Weekly series.

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