Gather your own targeted data: start small if necessary
It’s hard to get around it: you must survey your people. You can piggyback on an existing survey or send a new one. If there’s no appetite for an entire workforce survey, start with one department.
If that’s hard, start with one team. This has the added advantage that you can gather more qualitative data because your approach can be more personalised.
Ultimately, the point of the survey is to provide insights into problems that have the potential to undermine performance at work.
So don’t only ask people what their problems are, ask rich follow-up questions on how their problems affect them personally and at work (linked to key business metrics such as engagement and retention).
HR and the cost of living crisis:
Add in some proxy stats to give high-level insight
Are more people opting out of auto-enrolment or reducing their pensions contributions?
Do you offer salary advances to staff? If so, are the numbers going up?
Maybe more people are calling your EAP or taking advantage of season ticket loans? What other metrics could signify that employees are concerned about money?
All these metrics are good ways to paint a picture of how people are doing across your workforce.
Once you add these objective measures to your self-reported survey data, you start to create a powerful narrative of how people are doing in your organisation.
Showcase extreme money stories - and common ones too
When some people think of poor financial wellbeing, they automatically think of the extremes - someone drowning in problem debt or being declared bankrupt.
These stories resonate with leaders personally, but also professionally, because they can see how intervention and support can radically transform someone’s personal and professional effectiveness. The problem is, they can be hard to find.
More common money stories are easier to find and you may be able to gather some in your survey. People aren’t necessarily in a bad place; they could be confused, or stuck or uncertain.
The consistent theme is a lack of action.
For example, someone may have put off buying a house because they just didn’t understand mortgages, but after being educated they were able to do so and now feel positive about their financial situation, which is making them feel more motivated to progress in the workplace.
Without action, these commonplace issues can cause low engagement or performance.
Somebody may be struggling with budgeting or debt and persistent financial anxiety is directly causing underperformance in the workplace.
Understanding debt consolidation options, constructing a realistic repayment plan and being empowered to take action can drive lasting change, which reduces chronic anxiety and improves performance at work.
Find a senior stakeholder with a story
Another common cliche is that board-level directors are out of touch with the money problems of the majority of the workforce.
It’s an unfair blanket statement, because poor financial wellbeing can affect people at all levels, although it may have some basis in reality at your organisation.
Either way, it does help to showcase a story of a senior leader with a higher income because it drives home that financial wellbeing is as much about mindset as it is money.
Within the boardroom, it also embeds the idea that financial wellbeing is worthy of investment because it’s a whole-of-workforce problem.
The required solutions may vary, but the need for positive financial wellbeing is pervasive. We each have our own unique relationship with money and high income or wealth levels do not preclude individuals from experiencing negative financial wellbeing at any stage of life.
Showcase the success of something small
Show that financial wellbeing support is actively desired.
You could host a financial wellbeing session in your mental health safe space and report anonymously on attendees. You could survey the current financial health of your workforce based on various objective metrics, captured anonymously.
You could review your expenses policy and make changes so people don’t have to wait so long to be reimbursed (don’t forget that the structure of work and your policies can have a direct impact on someone’s financial wellbeing), then ask your team to see how the change landed.
All these options are like a shopping list. You won’t be able to bring them all to the table, and what you do bring depends on the personalities and politics in the boardroom. But together they paint a formidable picture and should help you create that blended approach to buy-in that’s so important to success.
Sam Lathey is the CEO of financial wellbeing platform Bippit