When we talk about financial wellbeing or self-care, there’s often an emphasis on the “self” part.
It’s about how you personally can take care and control of your money. It’s about how your finances impact your wellbeing, how you can improve your relationship with your money, and how you can achieve your financial goals.
Financial self-care isn’t something you’d necessarily expect your workplace to play a part in. In fact, beyond discussions of salary or bonuses, your money doesn’t feel like something you’d necessarily expect your company to so much as mention – let alone raise in the context of financial wellbeing.
Yet, this is precisely what’s happening.
More and more companies are talking about financial self-care. New employee perks focused on supporting our financial wellbeing are popping up in businesses big and small. In fact, according to Personnel Today, nearly a third (32%) of employers say the pandemic has accelerated their plans to improve the financial wellbeing of their staff. Moreover, the likes of HSBC Life have announced new financial wellbeing focused partnerships, Octopus Group has launched Octopus Moneycoach after acquiring Hatch Financial Coaching, and Salary Finance has published the Employer’s Guide to Financial Wellbeing for the third year running – this time focusing on post-pandemic money concerns.
After years of employee benefits focusing on offices, the conversation is radically shifting. It’s exciting to see this change. Now, we’re talking about work/life balance and ways our employers can support our overall wellbeing – financial wellbeing included.
There are, of course, plenty of questions worth asking: what does this mean for our money? what kind of perks might we expect from our employers when it comes to our finances? are there any risks to accepting such support? and how could it help us improve our financial health?
Given that two weeks ago was Mental Health Awareness Week, now seems like a particularly important time to consider such questions. After all, money and mental health are intricately intertwined, and knowing what support is out there – from professional help to employee benefits – is something that can help all of us.
Join Our Newsletter!
Get content like this in your inbox every Friday
Workplace perks of the past were mostly about keeping us in the office.
When I first started working, a lot of the benefits listed in my new joiner pack were things like free bacon sandwiches on a Friday, Urban Massage brought to the office once a quarter, internal learning opportunities and so on. Occasionally there was something like an extra day off for your birthday, but the focus was generally on encouraging you to come to the office and stick around.
Commenting in the Financial Times, Annie Auerbach, author of Flex, says most traditional benefits are designed as ‘stay here tactics’. Their whole premise was based on the idea that being present bolsters productivity – even if studies say this isn’t necessarily true.
But in more recent years, you’ll no doubt have noticed just how many perks lead back to the provision (or pursuit) of greater wellbeing. From gym memberships and private health care, to online therapy or app subscriptions like Calm, the new trend is all about our employers supporting our mental and physical health.
The pandemic has fast-tracked these shifts towards workplace wellness.
After a year of forced remote working, today’s workforce is distributed like never before. We’ve grown used to our home offices, our home lunches, our lack of commute. We enjoy the independence, even if we miss collaboration. And many of us want this flexibility to remain post-pandemic – or at least a modicum of it.
In the wake of mass working-from-home, perks are no longer about breakout rooms and Nespresso machines in the office – they can’t be when we’re not there. The move into wellbeing-focused benefits has therefore boomed. In fact, pre-Covid-19, 68% of people globally said that company wellness schemes were a big factor in accepting a job offer. Now that’s as high as 90% in the UK, according to Glassdoor data, with employers being seen as critical sources of support and guidance to the people working for them.
As we know, our finances are a crucial part of the wellbeing mix – and it’s positive to see so many more employers going beyond the basics of workplace pensions or company cards to support their teams. They’re thinking about what we, as employees, need in terms of financial support, education, and opportunity. They’re talking about how we can increase our confidence and resilience.
But what exactly do new financial wellbeing perks look like in the workplace?
There’s a real mix of new workplace benefits focused on personal finance. Some are focusing on products – like banking apps, corporate ISAs, Lifetime ISAs, or general savings and investment accounts. Others are looking more closely at financial education – options like access to coaching, communities, seminars, and self-assessment tools. In every case, it’s about addressing a gap in the way we are taught about money or given access to certain tools and features.
For example, Simon Rogerson, co-founder and CEO of Octopus Group, touched on the issue of the financial advice gap when he commented on the acquisition of Hatch: “While the advice industry serves many people extremely well, there are still vast swathes of UK population who don’t get any form of financial advice. This has huge implications for people’s finances but also for their mental health, as money worries are one of the biggest causes of stress.”
All of it feels rather positive. What we’re seeing is the great taboo of money being brought into the workplace. Yes, there’s more to do but having financial wellbeing perks that directly help us learn more, access more, save more – that’s a great thing.
However, there is one big challenge: the question of how to help very different people, with very different financial needs and ambitions, who all work at the same company.
After all, a new joiner in an entry level role may require a vastly different level of support compared to a mid-level or senior-level employee. Someone in the finance team might have a much deeper understanding of their money than someone of the same level or above in another department (or they might not). Likewise, mistakes made when we’re younger can linger for a long time, damaging our confidence and stopping us from doing things like investing.
Money simply can’t be handled with a one-size-fits-all approach. Done wrong, the danger is that finance-focused benefits could make things worse rather than better. And according to Willis Towers Watson’s Future of Financial Wellbeing study, despite most employers offering some financial wellbeing benefits, programmes and initiatives, 62% have not articulated a strategy yet.
A holistic approach to money and mental health.
Defining what a financial wellbeing strategy should look like in 2021 is no doubt on the minds of many employers. Whether they’re big businesses, consultancies, or law firms, small startups or medium-sized enterprises, the future of employee benefits is one that takes a holistic approach to wellness of all kinds.
Money is a crucial pillar within wellbeing. As Maurizio Kaiser, co-founder of ikigai, has said, taking care of our finances is just as important as taking care of our mental and physical health. Not least because they’re all so intertwined.
So if your company does start offering benefits that aim to help you boost your financial wellbeing, they could definitely be worth exploring. You can ask yourself:
1. Will this help me achieve my financial goals – whether that’s small or big, like a wedding, changing careers, or retiring early?
2. Will this help me feel more confident in how I spend or invest?
3. Will this teach me about areas of money that I don’t currently know much about?
4. Will it give me the tools to take control of my money in a new way, perhaps offering greater visibility or access to products I couldn’t easily open myself?
5. Will this support my overall wellbeing, ensuring I am less stressed and more resilient mentally and financially?
Remember: Whilst money is one of the biggest causes of stress, especially in young adults, the fact is that almost all of us can do with more support when it comes to our wealth. Needing or wanting to improve your financial wellbeing is not a sign that you’re bad with money. Looking after your finances, ensuring that you feel in control, can be an act of self-care.
Join Our Newsletter!
Get content like this in your inbox every Friday
We built ikigai specifically for those who want to bring their lifestyle to the next level, by taking better care of their finances.
ikigai beautifully combines wealth management and everyday banking in one single app. And by doing so, it creates a whole new world of opportunities.
Visit https://ikigai.money to find out more.Maurizio & Edgar, Co-Founders, ikigai
When investing, your capital is at risk.