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How well do you understand your employees financial well-being?

I run my own business and although I have seriously explored it, I don't have a team or staff.

For bigger businesses, there are front, middle and back office teams and even departments and possibly multiple locations with all these teams within them. These businesses success is going to be dependent on the people it has in these teams, how they do their jobs but also how they feel on a day-to-day basis. This means the staff will bring to work, all the worry and concerns in their lives. Remote working provides more of a hiding place for employees for these troubles, as you'll likely be interacting less with colleagues who may pick up on things; so its harder for an employer to know what is really going on, until perhaps someone goes off long-term sick.

Having read the PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey of more than 3,000 workers recently for 2022, it raises causes of concern for owners, CEO's and directors of all companies where more than one person works. Even as a sole operator, whilst I may not have daily money worries (for which I am incredibly thankful and feel fortunate), have I lost sleep and had low days more in the last year than the previous two or three; yes, is the honest answer. I know my mortgage and house running costs will gone up by over £1,000 per month. I am concerned that my savings rate has dropped significantly.

The default response is "I'm OK" from most people when asked "How are you?"

Perhaps, we need different questions such as "How are you feeling about your workload" or "Are you getting enough exercise, downtime, sleep?" to gauge a general idea of well-being and time-pressures currently being experienced. This though requires a lot of openness from staff around personal and sensitive issues, which may make people feel uncomfortable sharing and therefore its easy to resort to the stock answer above, even if it is not true.

It is also hard for an employer to ask "Do you have any money troubles or concerns right now" as it is a hard question to ask a friend; but more so in an employer/employee dynamic as staff are and will likely be reluctant to be too open for the very dynamic mentioned above. The employer usually has all the power in the relationship, even if they think they are building a "family culture in the workplace", families rarely talk openly about money!

Given the connection between financial wellness and mental health, employers should consider offering financial coaching alongside their mental health resources. When it comes to taking action on financial issues, employees whose mental health has been severely or majorly impacted by their financial worries are less likely to describe themselves as self-motivated and more likely to take action if their employer offers incentives.

Next week I am delivering a coaching day to six members of a team in Salisbury for a company that has around 40 staff members. This is a big step in the right direction in helping its biggest asset, its people, talk confidentially about what is worrying them so I can try to help them feel better and come up with some strategies to ease some of the financial pressures they may be facing. My time is paid for by the company, as they recognised the value this can add.

If you want your teams to feel less stressed, with increased self-esteem , more focused on their work, look into inserting this into your business.

The bottom line, and your most important assets, will thank you for it.

PwC study on employee financial wellness and how financial coaching can help staff
PwC report on financial wellness

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