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What the highest-performing teams never need to worry about

Mental health, inclusiveness and workplace wellbeing may all be modern pursuits of businesses looking to enhance productivity, but financial adviser Helen Baker says one subject is often overlooked by leaders: financial wellbeing.

Financial Wellbeing

Employers are increasingly focusing on staff wellbeing to boost productivity, workplace culture and retention. But have you considered how and why you should address your team’s financial wellbeing?

Modern business leaders recognise that ‘work’ and ‘personal’ are no longer separate entities – the two are inextricably linked. We take work pressures home with us and personal issues inevitably follow us to work.

One of the biggest stresses of all can be money. Could you achieve your best work if you’re facing the prospect of debt collectors beating down your door when you get home? Unlikely.

Just as with safeguarding employees’ mental and physical wellbeing, so too are there benefits from protecting their financial wellbeing.

Here are some strategies any business can use to do exactly that.

Create a safe zone

Discussing finances can be confronting for many people, especially women. Concerns can be compounded by issues such as addiction, mental illness or domestic violence.

These problems often mean the workplace is a safer space in which to open up about financial worries.

Harness the opportunity to do good for your employees by ensuring the workplace is that safe space in practice, not just in theory. Implement a professional and structured approach to facilitating these discussions.

An employee assistance program (EAP) or trained counsellor can offer additional support should such issues arise.

Reading is key

Just as you may bring in external people to facilitate workplace training, the same can be done here with a licensed, reputable financial adviser. They can deliver team presentations on the basics and then be available for one-on-one appointments for tailored discussions.

This is a great way to connect individuals with relevant professionals, who they may struggle to connect with on their own.

Providing reading materials to employees for self-education is another option. This can empower them to learn more about money management for themselves. Other free resources you can highlight include the government’s MoneySmart website, for example, which has tools including a budget planner and a mortgage calculator.

Reinforce crucial foundations

A business is built on good foundations, including an effective business plan. Yet the majority of people don’t take the same approach with their own finances.

I generally advise looking at the following as a basis for building wealth and financial security:

  • Superannuation
  • Estate planning
  • Insurances
  • Spending and investment plan
  • Emergency fund

Getting the foundations right safeguards against things crashing down in a crisis (such as when a global pandemic hits or the next big hiccup).

Discuss superannuation

Speaking of superannuation, it tends to be the easiest aspect of finance to discuss in the workplace, given that we earn super from employer contributions.

Consider incorporating a super check-in as part of your onboarding process for new employees, to ensure current and future contributions work hard for them, to look at their investments and determine whether they have adequate insurance cover before they make a big mistake consolidating funds.

For existing employees, annual reviews or salary increases can be a good time to broach the subject. Checking in regularly allows them to see whether any tweaks are needed or if they may be eligible for co-contribution incentives.

Make it permanent for real results

Financial issues surface throughout our working lives and change according to major life events. Getting married, buying a house, having kids, being made redundant, changing careers and so on. A one-off discussion with leaders about money management won’t solve everything, but it’s a critical move in the right direction.

The key is to provide ongoing support and education about finances to ensure continued learning and development, just as you would any other type of training.

Not only will employees be better off personally, but their new-found money skills can be put to use at work as well. It’s a win–win for both sides.

Helen Baker is a licensed Australian financial adviser and author of On Your Own Two Feet: Steady Steps to Women’s Financial Independence and On Your Own Two Feet Divorce: Your Survive and Thrive Financial Guide.

Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.

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