Iain Chadwick, Managing Director of Johnson Fleming and creator of AllMyBenefits

As the world adapted to remote work in 2020 due to a global pandemic, work-life boundaries were blurred. Empathy and understanding colleagues on a deeper level became the focus as everyone adapted to a new and uncertain world. This broader employer involvement in their people’s personal lives has heightened employee expectations regarding their relationship with their employer and the support they expect to improve their wellbeing.

Financial concerns will dominate in 2022

Every month, inflation is climbing to a new “highest level in decades”. Coupled with rising interest rates, the cost of living is impacting people at all earning scales.

The impact of financial anxieties on overall wellbeing is well documented. Research from the University of Manchester revealed that money worries have had an increasing effect on mental health as the pandemic progressed.

Similarly, a recent survey found that 4% of payroll is being lost to employee stress and absence due to financial concerns. Employers must be highly attuned to this quickly evolving (and unfortunately worsening) context, if they are to meaningfully engage with their employees.

Employers need to work hard to lessen the impact of the Great Resignation

The post-Covid expectations and the current financial impact of world events mean that genuine, personalised and impactful engagement with the workforce has become a strategic priority for businesses.. The Great Resignation has seen employees deserting employers who provide little in the way of ‘value added’ employee benefits alongside a basic salary.

Research in the US found that the cost of a single resignation is equivalent to approximately $11,372 per employee, or £8,685. High employee turnover also lowers morale, decreases productivity and is time-consuming. These factors in turn significantly impact the customer experience, damaging the business’s commercial outcomes. Therefore, employee retention has quickly become a strategic priority for businesses.

This crisis of confidence in the workplace has underlined that people require more from their job than a paycheck, particularly when that paycheck is losing value in the current macroeconomic climate.  At the core, staff expect their employers to provide a comprehensive benefits offering that will support them to weather the financial crisis and allow them to be financially stable. A simple salary is not cutting it any more, as employees’ personal finances are taking a hit.

The role of employers in alleviating financial anxieties

The financial pressures on the public, and the recruitment and retention issues businesses are confronted by, point to a clear answer: organisations need to provide better physical, mental and financial wellbeing benefits, and ensure they are communicated to employees in a timely, personalised and easily accessible way.

First and foremost, employers must ensure that benefits communications are user-friendly for all employees. Being conscious of how different staff demographics will want to access the information and support offered to them is central to effective benefit engagement programmes. Using simple language and clear visual prompts across a variety of delivery methods, from offering hard copies, to face-to-face sessions, to digital platforms, will facilitate accessibility and understanding for the entire workforce.

Most importantly, signposting the trusted solutions, where employees can ask questions or access further support, will be key to the uptake of employee benefits and financial wellbeing resources. To ensure lasting and effective engagement, timely and personalised communication is essential.

Employers are better equipped to communicate with their people in a personalised way than they might initially think. HR, payroll, pensions and benefits departments are treasure troves of employee data. Pay rises, sick leave, parental leave and address changes are indicative of significant life changes, which can be used to send timely, personalised push-communications to individual employees about how their benefits can offer support at that particular moment in their life. With this, employers should also look to wider events such as inflation and interest rate rises, to pinpoint what issues will be significantly impacting their talent. Employers must equate these data triggers to the human events that lie behind them, to paint a comprehensive picture of each individual employee’s circumstances and needs. A number of products exist on the market to help businesses automate this process and turn these data triggers into an ongoing communication strategy, uniquely personalised to each individual employee.

By leveraging the full value of data, businesses will be able to provide more effective and attractive benefits packages, supporting their employees in the most relevant and timely way, personalised to their unique circumstances. It is crucial that employees feel seen and understood by their employers, and that employers demonstrate the “value-added” support they provide to their prospective new hires.

In the current recruitment and financial climate, employers should be looking for even more ways to help their employees reduce stress levels, improve their financial and mental wellbeing, alleviate dissatisfaction, and in turn give themselves the edge over their competitors in the increasingly tough battle for talent. And the best part is….they already have the data to do this.

 

About the author

Iain Chadwick has over 20 years’ experience in the pensions industry. He is responsible for the service provided by the Consultancy team, who provide high-quality advice to clients and drive the development of new client services.