Last reviewed 8 November 2023
6–10 November 2023 is Talk Money Week, a campaign run by MoneyHelper which encourages everybody to talk about money, to help build financial resilience and confidence in managing money in the future. Employers can get involved with this too, from actively promoting the campaign to offering employees access to financial advice and support to help them take control of their finances.
In this feature, Stacie Cheadle, Croner-i employment law researcher and writer, looks at the ways employers can get involved with Talk Money Week and promote the financial wellbeing of their workforce.
What is Talk Money Week?
MoneyHelper is the provider behind Talk Money Week, and it brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.
Talk Money Week is an awareness campaign that is trying to break down the taboo of talking about money and is promoted as an opportunity to start “building money conversations into everyday life”. Providing guidance and advice on talking about money with those around you, including children, it is a source of information that any employer looking to do more about the financial wellbeing of their employees should consider promoting within their workforce.
Why talking about money is important
According to MoneyHelper, one in three people get worried when they think about their financial situation. The pandemic hasn’t helped with this, as those who lost income because of it are more likely to have lost their confidence in managing their own money compared to how they felt pre-pandemic.
Many employers who offer wellbeing support to their staff include provisions for employees’ financial wellbeing too. This is an employee’s ability to manage their finances and money on a day-to-day basis, as well as their preparedness for unexpected costs, such as replacing a broken appliance, and planning for the future, all whilst making the most of what they have.
Practical steps to support employees
Supporting financial wellbeing is not just about pay rises, although having a structure of regular pay reviews and a practice of awarding fair pay increases should be a basic practice for most businesses. It can start with something as simple as doing “one thing” to improve financial wellbeing, as is encouraged by Talk Money Week. In this, employers should talk to their staff about the one thing they could do to get a handle on their money and then making a fuss about it once it is done. This, it is hoped, will inspire others to do the same, and what started as one thing can escalate into many things, building up the financial confidence of the individuals involved.
That one thing could be an employee getting better acquainted with their payslips, to help them understand their income and identify if there has been an issue with their pay. Employers could support this by providing a breakdown of what each individual part means and giving employees a point of contact for any queries.
Another thing employees can do is use an alternative commute. This can help not only with financial wellbeing but physical and mental too. By riding a bike or walking to work, employees will gain many physical benefits. Helping employees to organise themselves to do this together encourages socialisation and helps them to feel safe whilst doing so. A cycle-to-work programme can help manage the costs for those who don’t already have a suitable bike. Carpooling and lift sharing can also be beneficial, again by cutting costs and by encouraging employees to socialise, which can have significant benefits for mental health too.
Employers should make sure basic pay is right. Whilst it is an easy mistake to make, it is one that should be avoided at all costs. This includes only making lawful deductions from pay, that do not cause pay to drop below minimum wage levels. It also means paying in full for working hours, including those times employees are asked to attend work outside of hours, such as for a team meeting or training session. The same goes for holiday pay, where employers need to include overtime and commission payments into holiday pay calculations for those that receive these regularly (although government consultation recently closed into making changes to the calculation of holiday pay, which may eventually cause a change in the law in this area).
Another way that employers could make changes is reviewing how expenses are managed. If it can take time for expenses to be approved, or there is a lengthy and complex process to do so, this can cause stress for employees as they become worried about their cashflow. Making sure this process is streamlined and as easy as possible will help employees who are required to incur costs during their work feel more relaxed about doing so.
Introducing flexibility into working hours and locations can also allow employees to better manage their costs and take better care of their money. By allowing travel outside of peak hours to reduce costs, allowing remote or homeworking or inviting homeworkers into the office, employers can support employees into making more financially smart decisions as to when and where they work.
Finally, clearly communicating internal and external support, such as providing access to financial education and guidance, can help employees to assess what they have and how they can make smart financial decisions to secure their future. This could be by providing access to company equipment outside of working hours to attend online training or for research or by inviting speakers specialising in financial assistance in to talk to employees.
Talking about money is important every week of the year, not just during Talk Money Week. However, this is a great opportunity for employers to shout about what they are already doing to support employee financial wellbeing or a chance for them to introduce measures if they are not already. Helping employees to become more financially confident and resilient in the future has so many advantages, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.