Protecting the financial wellbeing of the next generation

?Many have welcomed last week’s proposal from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, outlining how the UK will approach rising unemployment levels, and encouraging businesses to provide additional traineeships, apprenticeships and work placements for younger generations. However, with many young adults attempting to kickstart their careers during the most turbulent economic period in living memory, the government’s Kickstart Scheme – although a great starting position – requires support from businesses if it is to be successful

There are several ways businesses can support this generation’s entrance into the workforce and build a healthy talent pipeline to proactively protect their future prospects and bottom-line.

While addressing the growing unemployment challenge may seem like a daunting task, employers have a unique opportunity to build financial resilience for the future. By acting now, UK companies also have a prime opportunity to win the war for talent and secure the very best and brightest – vital for any business’ future success.

So, what steps should HR teams be taking in order to protect tomorrow’s talent and bolster financial wellbeing during this period of economic volatility?

Impart the right skills, confidence and knowledge

Instating an education-first approach within the workplace will provide younger employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to help them make better decisions. Improving financial education among staff will ensure they are aware of, and opt-in to, pre-existing benefit packages – helping them accumulate an emergency savings buffer.

Not only does this drive more value from your reward spend, it also teaches employees how to save effectively for the future and become more resilient to future shocks. Creating a financially savvy workforce, in turn, increases productivity as employees become less pre-occupied with financial stresses, able instead to dedicate more focus to company goals.

Supply innovative scheme designs driven by data insights

Simply providing education will not be enough if these efforts are not supported by the correct monetary plans, tailored to the individual needs. And there are a number of innovative schemes that allow younger people to save above and beyond the average worker.

For instance, allowing employees to redirect excess pension contributions – over the Auto Enrolment requirement – to student loans or lifetime ISAs, immediately places them on the right path to help them achieve their financial goals.

Remember economic volatility impacts more than just your workforce

Even if your staff are coping well during this economic disruption, the odds dictate that their loved ones may not be. Extending access to your company’s financial wellbeing programmes to your employees’ friends and family members can be an expense-free and a generous method of prompting fiscal education and prosperity in the wider community.

Not only will this improve your company’s image amongst employees, but it will strengthen your brand reputation, as friends and family members associate your business with robust CSR policies and impressive kindness towards their community.

Evaluate your workforce planning

Although upskilling and increasing financial wellbeing requires a certain level of desire from younger generations to embark on this educational journey, the responsibility need not fall entirely on them.

It may seem like an arduous task, but reviewing workforce management plans to allow older generations to retire in a timely manner will help make way for younger talent. The result will be a generation transitioning to a well-earned retirement, and a more flexible workforce that’s focussed on new ideas, able to increase innovation for UK businesses.

By taking action now, businesses can play a key role in helping their younger workforce navigate this uncertain period – but also instilling the skills, knowledge and confidence for the long-term. It’s not just a nice and responsible thing to do, it boosts wellbeing, engagement and productivity in and outside of work.

Jeremy Beament is co-founder and director at financial wellbeing software provider nudge

Further reading:

Employees face many financial wellbeing barriers

Redundancy tops employee concerns as lockdown eases

Furlough scheme makes pay cuts the norm

Financial wellbeing webinar: Who's looking after the pennies?