For most of us, 2020 was quite a daunting year. Not only have we been concerned about our own health and safety, but we have also become more aware of the possibility that we may lose our job stability and face financial challenges due to market uncertainties. In a changing world, employers have a part to play in their workers’ long-term financial resilience.
Since the start of the global pandemic, most of us have probably wondered, “How long will my savings last if I were to get retrenched today?” or “How long can I go on without a job?”. Apparently, not long enough.
A Blackrock survey found that 63% of respondents find it difficult to balance paying bills with saving/investing for retirement. This may be further compounded by the global pandemic, as people who have faced income loss dig into their savings to sustain their livelihood.
As the average time spent on finding new employment extends to beyond 3 months, how can Hongkongers find financial stability to feel protected? Aside from the usual salary and bonus, do companies need to provide further support for their employees’ financial well-being?
why do employers need to provide financial wellness?
‘Attractive salary and benefits’ has always ranked as the most important employee value proposition in Randstad’s Employer Brand Research. However, offering an above-average salary is simply not enough to retain your employees, especially when competitors are always willing to raise the salary bar to attract great talent.
Organisations that want to retain their workforce will need to understand why their employees are choosing to stay with the company and if their expectations have changed recently. Are they experiencing financial challenges or financial stress to pay their student loans? Are they looking to buy a new property?
There is an increasing expectation for companies to provide income stability to their employees, especially in recent times. Companies also stand to gain when they offer financial wellness programmes and support to their employees.
Employees are more likely to stay loyal to their employers to continue enjoying access to financial support programmes. And through these programmes, they may improve their financial literacy which will be useful to their jobs and find themselves bringing home a bigger income. At the same time, companies can benefit from having a workforce that has good financial knowledge, as they become more efficient in budgeting and financial planning.
We know that at this point of the article, you’re probably wondering how much would these additional employee benefits cost you. Well, you’ll be glad to know that it will hardly cost you anything.
how can employers improve their employees’ financial well-being?
Employers’ benefits from a more engaged and productive workforce when their employees face fewer financial worries. Employees financial wellness programmes can help create a healthy workplace, as employees can focus on developing their skills and contributing to the organisation's performance.
1. review your current options
Global companies that are listed in stock exchanges tend to offer shares purchase plans so that the interests of the employees are aligned with that of the company, which inherently creates a win-win situation when the company revenue grows. Some start-ups are also known to offer stock options to their founding employees for the same reason.
However, small-and-medium enterprises and large local companies tend to face more resource limitations when it comes to offering financial benefits to their employees.
2. explore external support
In Hong Kong SAR, several banks and fintech firms have launched new solutions to meet increasing customer demands. These products, such as pension and bonus plans, allow companies and employees to discover ways in which they can manage and grow their wealth in a scalable manner.
One such workforce management resolution is StashAway Workplace, an innovative employee financial benefits solution that aims to empower organisations in their talent management. Developed by Asia’s leading digital wealth manager, StashAway, this product is designed to support organisational objectives for compensation, retention and employee benefits.
Companies that tap on these highly-customisable products can help their employees save and plan for their retirement, as well as improve their overall well-being and engagement at work. Employers and employees can work together to curate their own co-contribution plans that are equivalent to employee stock option plans or cash-based retention plans. As a start, organisations would usually contribute either a percentage of profits within a time period, or a bonus programme that would vest over a period of five years.
Amanda Ong, Country Manager of StashAway Singapore, shared the inspiration behind the company’s latest offering, “Through our free-to-access educational seminars and online courses for end-users and organisations, we found that the increased financial literacy among employees has encouraged more and more organisations to look into the ways they can provide additional savings and retirement plans to meet their employees’ expectations. However, there is a knowledge gap as most of the employers we spoke with did not know where to start or the solutions that are available for them.”
3. achieve financial freedom
Indeed, when it comes to building a stronger workforce in the new normal, HR leaders are beginning to recognise the need to go beyond perks such as lunch allowances and gym memberships that tend to have lower value in a flexible work setting. Instead, employers need to understand the real factors that are troubling their workforce.
Amanda adds, “The delivery of a real and pragmatic financial solution will not only allow an organisation to stand out in the recruiting sphere, but it would also bring about a happy and productive workforce that has greater management of their own finances. Employees will also have a strong grasp of financial know-hows, allowing them to be more confident in making informed decisions in their spending and budgeting, and be more prepared for rainy days.”
While the mastery of financial literacy isn’t easy, education is critical to achieving real financial freedom.
ask your employees what they need.
The role of an employer is to set every person up for success. When companies invest in skills development and offering benefits that matter to employees, they constitutionally strengthen the value and perception of their employer brand. If you’re reading this as an employer, do you know what type of financial assistances your employees need now? If not, then it’s best to speak with them and find out.
If attracting and retaining good talent for your business is a key challenge and if you want to take your workforce to the next level, please get in touch with us.