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Financial wellbeing in the workplace

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Bill Storie, CEO of the Olderhood Group

“While 88 per cent of employers think that their employees worry about money, just a third (30 per cent) think money worries impact their staff while at work. However, the reality on the ground is very different. Three-quarters (73 per cent) of employees say that money worries impact them at work.”— Close Brothers research, March 21, 2019

There is an increasing use of the phrase “financial literacy”. It means many things to many people, but unfortunately to some folks it suggests that they are illiterate. That’s not the point but to many the implication is enough for them to ignore the real issue.

All of us are lacking in some level of knowledge and understanding about our financial affairs. We are not all certified financial planners.

Terms such as mutual funds, fixed income, ETFs, global equities, risk profile, government bonds, stock indices, PE ratios, investment performance and many more are alien to a lot of us.

We tend to rely, or perhaps hope, that our pension or investment managers through our employment pension are looking after our interests. In the vast majority of situations, they are doing a good job, but wouldn’t it be better if we could converse with them in a little bit more financial language. It would help them and us.

Yet from the above statistics we fail to recognise that our financial wellbeing, or the lack of it more to the point, is impacting our lives every day. In fact, we can’t turn our worries off when we get to work. Instead we carry them through the day, all day, every day.

Maybe employers should realise just what impact poor financial wellbeing is having on their staff and their performance. Often, we walk past a colleague’s desk and see them staring into space (“micing” as we say). “Daydreaming again are we, mate?”

Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. But maybe they are worrying about something personal or at home — or their financial condition. Chances are they aren’t dreaming, they’re nervously contemplating what to do to get out of their situation. They need help.

Financial wellbeing initiatives are not scary events. They are not embarrassing events. They are useful.

More from the above research:

“The benefits of improving employee financial wellbeing are clear. Of those organisations that are already tackling the issue, nearly a third (30 per cent) say that it helps improve employee productivity, a quarter (24 per cent) say it assists in talent acquisition and retention, and 22 per cent say that it helps to fulfil their strategic business objectives.”

While workshops on how the pension fund works in your company are excellent and worthwhile, they don’t go far enough. Skipping over details of how the mutual funds in your pension fund are performing and whether you should consider changing them are issues of great importance. The principle of “one size fits all” does not do well when discussing your own personal finances and forecasting where you want to be in your later years.

The research adds: “Financial wellbeing has been overlooked for too long, but business can no longer afford to be complacent. It is integral to unlocking employee performance, as well as attracting and retaining the best talent.”

Today’s economic climate forces all of us to navigate the stormy seas with diligence, gaining knowledge and above all else — experience. The sooner we learn how to navigate our financial life the better. Being caught in the rain without an umbrella because we didn’t check the forecast is the same as being caught short in our retirement years. Too late to go back and get the umbrella.

Last thoughts from the research: “The benefits of providing advice and support for employees on their personal financial issues are huge. And from an employee perspective, the availability of financial wellbeing guidance in the workplace is becoming a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’.”

Join us for the next Olderhood/Butterfield Bank “Money Matters” workshop.

April 23, 2019 at Butterfield Bank from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. Register for Free at http://bit.ly/2YIutpQ

• Bill Storie is CEO of The Olderhood Group Ltd, a Bermudian company and exclusive Bermuda partner of Career Partners International, with more than 350 offices worldwide. He is also producer and host of The Ozone a weekly radio show on Magic 102.7FM. He can be reached at www.olderhoodgroup.com or Bill@olderhood.com