Spotlight on Financial Wellbeing

We were delighted to host our very first round-table with our medium and large accredited organisations on 28th February, and our chosen topic was financial well-being – to share ways in which different organisations were looking after their employees.

In one-to-one discussions with individual members over the past few months, we knew this was an area of interest.  We also knew immediately who of our accredited organisations would be best placed to host such an event – the established champion of social change and ways to solve UK poverty, Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  Louise Woodruff, co-author of the resources launched earlier this year to help employers support their staff with the cost-of-living: expertly led us through our discussion.

Louise shared how the Foundation had surveyed staff last year and run some focus groups to understand their different experiences in relation to the rise in the cost of living.  The decision they took to make a one-off cost-of-living payment to staff, and to give a generous pay rise of 9% to most of their staff with the exception of a number of senior managers who received a lower amount were echoed by other participants at the virtual event.

One company introduced a specific fund which employees could access quickly and easily for those unexpected costs which were causing hardship.  Interestingly they shared that they had expected to be overwhelmed, but colleagues were responsible and sensible in accessing the fund.  Payroll loans were another method some companies had implemented, as were partnering with a third party to offer interest-free loans.

I was really pleased to see a range of organisations contribute as it helped capture the different challenges – and therefore different ways – to help with employee financial well-being.  One example of that was a University, who as a public sector organisation is constrained in its ability to make one-time payments and in the level of pay rises they can offer, but they instead focused on food and basics including such innovative schemes as a clothing swap shop (which was really successful) and a cost-of-living fayre for staff and students alike, signposting to different agencies.

Other schemes organisations had implemented included free breakfast and setting employees up with a card where they could load money on to then get a discount when they go shopping. Selling equipment such as phones at a huge discount to staff was also mentioned. There was an interesting conversation about the importance of ensuring staff were aware of the benefits available to them – an image of Brompton HR staff going down to the factory floor with iPad in hand to literally show their colleagues what was on offer and how to access it really stuck in my mind as a visual from the discussion.

I was so encouraged by this opportunity to engage a group of passionate, responsible organisations around a (virtual) table and inspire one another with the different ways an organisation can help their colleagues.  The feedback from the event was positive with some great energy and I hope it will be the first of many as together we push each other to be the best we can be in how we care for our people.