From signposting useful resources and support services, to making pay more flexible, there are many actions you can take to boost financial wellbeing for employees.

Contributors to a Zellis financial wellbeing roundtable recently offered some insightful guidance at a time when so many people are suffering from financial anxiety. This stress directly impacts their wellbeing, productivity, and performance – as research, including our own, reveals.

Here’s a short clip from the roundtable

Watch the full financial wellbeing roundtable here

A good place to start when tackling this issue is to ask employees for their views and needs, using a survey. The aim is to establish what they would value most in financial wellbeing terms and what would support them most effectively. Technology can play a key role by helping to remove pain points and drive positive behavioural change.

It’s also critical to convince leadership about the financial and commercial benefits of introducing an effective financial wellbeing strategy. Once your programme is in place, carefully monitoring outcomes will also enable you to demonstrate a return on investment. It will likewise make it clearer where you should focus future expenditure.

So, to help you move forward effectively, here are three important questions to consider when going down this route:

  • How can you use employee payslips to best effect?
  • How does earned wage access (flexible pay) make a difference?
  • How can benefits support financial wellbeing for employees?

How can you make payslips work harder?

Instead of just helping employees when they reach financial crisis point, it makes sense to support them on an ongoing basis. An important way of doing so is to provide access to financial education.

One of the most effective ways of sharing information and signposting pertinent support is by providing employees with informative, easy-to-understand payslips. Since the cost-of-living crisis began, nearly 60% of employees now go through their payslips in detail every month.

Jacqui Summons is Chief People Officer at United Health Group’s EMIS Health, an IT provider to the healthcare industry. She is also a non-executive director at Zellis. She explains:

employee financial wellbeing Jacqui Summons

“Thirty percent more people now check their payslips in detail than the same time last year. I wonder how many more people would do so if it was really user-friendly to find information and told them something really helpful other than just boxes and numbers?”

Jacqui Summons, Chief People Officer, EMIS Health; non-executive director, Zellis

The payroll function has a key role to play in rethinking how information is presented and ensuring it is as transparent as possible.

How does earned wage access (flexible pay) make a difference?

Otherwise known as ‘flexible pay’ or ‘pay on demand’, earned wage access enables people to withdraw some of their wage or salary before payday for work they have already completed.

It can boost financial wellbeing for employees by reduce a reliance on loans and high-interest borrowing. Employees with fluctuating earnings (e.g. hourly paid workers) can smooth out peaks and troughs between pay periods, reduce potential cashflow problems.

Earned wage access is most beneficial when provided alongside financial tools and information to help build positive financial habits. These can include budgeting, payroll-linked saving, and useful financial resources and tools.

Emily Trant is Chief Impact Officer for financial wellbeing company, Wagestream.

“A tool that’s really inclusive and flexible pay is 100% inclusive — allows people who might otherwise lack access to fair, affordable options to take control of their money and choose when they want to be paid, and when they want to spend that money” she says.

Interestingly, this can lead to people spending less rather than more money, which is the usual assumption:

financial wellbeing at work Emily Trant

“You’re allowing people to take control and make really productive decisions from a point of engagement. It’s why people who use flexible pay are more likely to activate workplace savings: because they’re engaging with their money across many facets.”

Emily Trant, Chief Impact Officer, Wagestream

How can benefits support financial wellbeing for employees?

Benefits are widely recognised as being an important means of supporting wellbeing strategies or helping solve wellbeing problems. A big area of interest in 2024 is providing employee discounts to help people with the ongoing high cost of living. This is especially true this year when many employers cannot afford to offer large pay rises.

Gethin Nadin is Chief Innovation Officer at Zellis and employee benefits platform provider Benefex. He is also an award-winning psychologist and best-selling author.

“Employees aren’t really changing their shopping behaviours, or even the brands or the things they buy,” Nadin says. “It’s just about finding ways to make that net pay go further.” Other options include employers using the functionality already in their payroll systems to provide access to mortgage or utility switching services, investment advice, and automatic workplace savings opportunities.

wellbeing and productivity Gethin Nadin

“You can help people wherever they are on their financial wellbeing journey and, importantly, understand that life events happen. So, somebody who might be very comfortable in their financial situation today might feel they have a high degree of confidence and control. But something could happen tomorrow, and they slip down and need a different type of support”

Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer, Benefex

HR professionals also have another valuable role to play though in encouraging often low benefits uptake. They can do this by curating the many offerings available and making them available via an easy-to-use platform. Managing policies and providers effectively is vital in this context too.

Emily Trant says, “If you’ve looked through the market and picked something out for employees, not only are you offering a really valuable benefit, but you’re also taking a lot of that lift away in terms of the thinking and choosing what to do.”

employee financial wellbeing and productivity FWB Roundtable

Watch the employee financial wellbeing roundtable

Tune into this insightful roundtable discussion featuring an expert panel of industry leaders in HR, workplace health, and financial wellbeing, exploring:

  • Why should employers take an interest in the financial wellbeing of their people? 
  • What happens to performance and productivity in the face of money worries? 
  • Is flexible pay (earned wage access) part of the solution? 
  • How does financial wellbeing impact engagement and retention? 
  • What’s the role of HR, shared services, and payroll teams?