Financial Wellbeing in 2023 - Our Wellbeing Lead explains what's in store - Working for Essex

Financial Wellbeing in 2023 – Our Wellbeing Lead explains what’s in store

Supporting Employee Financial Wellbeing

“Financial wellbeing is about feeling secure and in control. It’s about making the most of your money from day to day, dealing with the unexpected, and being on track for a healthy financial future. In short: financially resilient, confident, and empowered.”

– Money Advice and Pensions Service (MaPS)

Money worries are one of the biggest causes of stress for UK employees. Almost 8 in 10 UK employees take their money worries to work, affecting their performance (The Financial Wellbeing Index, 2019). Financial stress can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing, as well as their relationships and overall quality of life. It can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, impact on our health behaviours and decrease engagement and productivity at work. Having severe consequences for individuals, organisations, and communities.

Yet still financial wellbeing remains one of the most neglected areas in employee wellbeing, with under half of organisations focusing on this important aspect of wellbeing. A recent Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Health and Wellbeing at Work report found that only 37% of organisations provide financial education and support (e.g., access to advice/welfare loans for financial hardship) (CIPD, 2022).

People who experience financial wellbeing are less stressed about money. This, in turn, has positive effects on their overall mental and physical health, and on their relationships. So, it is obvious that employers need to do more to support this area of wellbeing, particularly during one of the most challenging economic climates we have faced in some time.  

How we empower Employee Financial Wellbeing at Essex County Council

There are lots of ways in which Essex County Council strive to support the wellbeing of their employees and this includes with their financial wellbeing. Financial wellbeing is a core pillar of our Wellbeing Strategy 2020 – 2025 so has always been a high priority for the council. Our Financial Wellbeing pillar focuses on:

  • Supporting individuals to become more aware of their finances.
  • Reducing financial stress by helping people to better manage their finances and become more financially secure. This includes areas such as managing debt, budgeting, saving, pensions, investments and living within our means.
  • Promoting employment practices that avoid low pay, insecure contracts, unfair pay gaps and ensure job security while meeting organisational requirements.
  • Ensure reward and benefits’ policies allow opportunities to support employees at all stages of their lives.

All the above can support us in maintaining a healthy and productive workforce, during these challenging times and beyond.

Responding to the Cost-of-Living Crisis

“As the cost of living continues to rise, employers have a more important role to play than ever before in supporting their employee’s financial wellbeing.”

– Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 2022

Right now, we know people are worried about rising costs and the impact this will have on them in terms of their financial wellbeing and this is no different for our employees.

So, towards the end of last year we launched our Financial Wellbeing Campaign which aims:

  • To provide support to our people through the cost-of-living crisis and beyond in relation to their financial and overall wellbeing.
  • To educate our employees around how to make the most of their money and raise awareness of the financial wellbeing support we have available within ECC and externally.
  • To recognise the impact that money worries can have on individuals both in their work and personal lives – thus demonstrating understanding that such concerns will have an impact on our people’s engagement in their roles and productivity if not addressed.
  • To support our employees to take control of their finances, utilise resources relevant to their individual financial situation, and build financial resilience for the future.
  • Engage in relevant national financial wellbeing campaigns to highlight specific issues of importance to our employees and encourage conversations around money.

Over the last few months, we have been focussing on key areas of financial wellbeing including cost of living, the importance of financial education, budgeting and spending, savings, debt management, protection, and planning for and in later life. We have a wide range of financial wellbeing resources, and have formed partnerships with leading experts, to offer practical information and advice to our employees. Including:

Regular Tailored Communications: Weekly communications on financial wellbeing with a wide variety of practical resources and advice, shared via our communications channels. Sharing information on key topics including navigating increasing costs, energy saving, making sustainable choices and building financial resilience.

Financial Education: Employees have access to online financial education via Salary Finance. We have partnered with HSBC who deliver Digital Financial Wellbeing Webinars specifically for ECC employees. Designed to give information and enhance understanding of key financial topics including budgeting and saving to buying your first home and retiring.

Financial Wellbeing Products: All our colleagues have access to a suite of benefits which offer a range of products to help support financial wellbeing. This includes affordable loans, repaid through salary. More recently we launched their Save and Help to Save products helping people to grow their existing savings, build a solid savings habit or save for something in particular.

Internal Webinars and Workshops: At our leadership roadshows led by our CEO and Executive Directors towards the end of last year there was a focus on Financial Wellbeing, a great starting point for opening conversations about money across the organisation. Webinars and workshops have been delivered internally on subjects including financial wellbeing and mental health, you and your pension and money saving.

Discounts and Benefits: Promoted the benefits and discounts available via our My Reward benefits platform including shopping and restaurant discounts (food, DIY, technology etc.), cashback on purchases, tax free savings on childcare via salary sacrifice, Cycle to Work through salary sacrifice and private health and dental care plans at corporate rates.

Campaigns: Celebrated campaigns including Talk Money Week helping people to have more open conversations about their money and Pensions Awareness Week a timely opportunity to improve pension knowledge and explore the valuable ways people can save their money. 

What’s Next?

We know everyone manages their money differently and our financial needs can change from one day to the next. So, our focus on financial wellbeing and particularly the cost of living will continue for as long as our employees need it. As part of our approach to wellbeing we continue to collaborate with employees and strive to provide wellbeing support which meets their emerging needs.

Find Out More

To find out more about our wellbeing approach and offer at Essex County Council visit Working for Essex – Your Wellbeing.