Talking about finances in the workplace is easy, right? Next to religion and politics, money seems like a difficult, if not impossible topic to approach in the workplace. Although it may seem like a no fly zone, employers need to consider building financial literacy and planning into the workplace. Let’s discuss why you should do it, and how to pull it off.
Go to google. Type in the word “financial” followed by literacy/stress/wellness in Canada and you’ll get loads of information on how Canadians are in big trouble when it comes to money. High debt levels, low savings, living paycheck to paycheck. Precarious financial situations abound in our country. People have a hard time answering basic financial questions that don’t even involve math. I think we’re starting to get the picture that the failure to build financial literacy and education in our school system has created a problem. Research now shows us what we’ve always intuitively known; being broke and stressed about money impacts our health, and also takes a big toll on the workplace. The problem is that a lack of confidence keeps people from seeking help on their own. Outside of school, the workplace is the ultimate venue to help educate people because they’re a captive audience.
If nearly half your workforce is distracted at work due to money worries, then it makes perfect business sense to address the issue that is likely impacting performance. Bringing financial wellness to the workplace can have huge benefits – and it can also be free or inexpensive to put in place. Let’s explore how to make that happen.
- Show that you care and open up the conversation. Use a letter like this to spread the word that you want to help people overcome their challenges and bring about a cultural change. People need to know that not being financially confident is actually the norm, not the exception. We need to remove the stigma.
- At a minimum, provide free information from sites like this. Don’t just send them to the site; pick a monthly topic and send out a link or put in where people can see it. Promote open discussion of topics. word of caution when providing information – do only that. Don’t dispense advice to employees or you could land yourself in trouble.
- Preferably, have lunch and learn sessions with various professionals. Lawyers and financial planners are great resources and will often do this for free because it’s great marketing for them.
- Best case scenario – your employee benefit consultant has access to an in house Certified Financial planner, or has a strategic partnership with a financial planning firm that will do one on one sessions with the employees. Anything personalized always wins hands down over cookie cutter advice. Then you can get lunch and learn sessions and/or let the staff know you have a secured a trusted adviser dedicated to working with your people.
At the end of the day who we become and what we do in life is heavily influenced by our education, experiences and the people that surround us. It’s important for employers to play a part in filling the gap in education that’s created the problem we now face. And best part is, the result is not just happier and healthier employees, but a happier bottom line.
Jon Corrigan CFP