Awareness of both mental and financial wellbeing has grown significantly in recent years, along with recognition of the clear link between the two. It’s widely understood that some mental health conditions can lead to financial difficulty, and poor financial wellbeing can itself lead to mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Whilst mental wellbeing support is now considered by many employers to be a key pillar of any employee wellbeing strategy, in order to create a successful wellbeing strategy, employers also need to look at how they can better support their employees’ financial wellbeing.

Create a clear financial wellbeing strategy

Organisations looking to implement some form of financial wellbeing support in the workplace often look to a provider first, rather than starting by understanding the needs of their people. Look to include financial wellbeing questions in any employee surveys you run, or perhaps run a specific financial survey if feasible. You could be surprised by the difference between what you think your people need support with, and the types of support they would ultimately want to see prioritised.

Sourcing wellbeing and education

There is lots of talk about financial wellbeing but what does that mean and who can help you to deliver this to your employees? When speaking with providers, some will be able to provide education, and this can achieve a strong foundation of knowledge for your workforce. Others can provide lighter touch information using a range of publicly available resources. However, it’s key to consider what is available to really help employees if they have a potential financial crisis – will the provider help them take relevant action once they know they have a problem and where do they direct them for further help?

Remove barriers

Your solution could be the greatest and most relevant ever, but if employees don’t know about it or how to access it, they’ll never gain the benefit of it being provided to them. Start by creating a clear communication and sharing it through your most successful channels. If you use a benefits platform or a company intranet, try creating a separate section for wellbeing, and within that the various pillars you provide support for (e.g. physical health, mental health, financial health, emotional health etc). Remember, the fewer clicks or actions you can put between the employee and the solution, the more likely they are to access it and benefit from it.  

Adapt your communications

Even prior to the pandemic employees have worked in different environments, from project sites to shop floors, offices to factories. Now that flexible working is a core element of working life for many organisations, understanding how best to communicate with staff is more important than ever. An e-mail would work for those with access to a company e-mail address, but what about those that don’t have access? A multi-channel approach is often needed for most modern workforces – don’t forget the traditional posters in canteens and even on the back of toilet doors. Put yourself in the shoes of your workforce, and understand their interaction points with the workplace, and how you can best communicate accordingly.

A safe space

Finally, employees facing mental health issues need a safe space where they can discuss their concerns. For some this could be a colleague, and for others they may prefer to speak with somebody away from the workplace. Ensure management are trained to effectively handle these situations, especially with knowledge of the various support channels available in the workplace. Services like EAP’s have a traditionally poor take up rate, but for most it may just be that they don’t know what help they can be, let alone how to contact them. Employees need to know these services are on an anonymous basis and can help on a wide range of topics from financial worries through to bereavement and a lot of things in between. Ensure employees know this and have these signposted in a clear a trusted manner.