One of the leading causes for money issues among workers is their lack of financial knowledge. Being educated to be financially literate is a much better option than employees having to dig themselves out of debt after the fact. Employee financial wellness programmes are programmes that educate employees to better budget and manage their finances and in doing so they contribute toward better overall financial wellbeing for employees. Debt counselling, on the other hand, is of benefit to employees only once they have already fallen into incapacitating debt, which, it must be said, may not necessarily be a by-product of an employee being financially irresponsible.
“One of the leading causes for money issues among workers is their lack of financial knowledge.”
It is important for organisations to provide as much support as possible to ease their workers’ financial pressures, to respond to the financial problems facing their workers and ensure that employers are financially literate. Doing so enhances your corporate citizenship and promotes productivity among staff. There are a few options toward organisations accomplish this:
Include financial security in your employee wellness programme.
Make it a focus area so that you open up conversations about this important aspect of your employees’ lives. Look for ways to communicate with and educate your employees about finances.
Help your employees to check their credit reports
In terms of the National Credit Act (NCA), every consumer is entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the four major credit bureaus in South Africa. Organisations can educate employees to follow the online instructions on each credit bureau’s website. The report will clearly indicate the person’s exposure to credit and show how well or badly they are managing debt. It is essential to remember; these reports contain private information that one can only help them to understand with their prior permission.
Make it a focus area so that you open up conversations about this important aspect of your employees’ lives.
Discourage the use of loan sharks
Loan sharks provide small, unsecured micro-loans where borrowers typically have to pay back the loan over six months at an extortionately high interest per month. These loan sharks prey on desperate people, providing loans when no financial institution following lending would do so. Their exorbitant interest rates mean that your employee will have even less money to live on in the next month. Soon, they will be trapped in a vicious cycle of debt and repayment. These types of loan are best avoided.
Don’t provide handouts
Offering an employee the option to take a course in financial literacy is more helpful in the long run than taking over their debt.
Have a debt counsellor on call
This is a trained counsellor who will come into your office once a month to answer your employees’ questions about debt and to provide help where necessary. The counsellor could also monitor each employee’s debt and keep a look out for and report reckless credit – which means credit given to an individual who cannot afford to pay it back.
Fine-tune your induction programme
Make it a policy that every new staff member must attend a budgeting class as part of the induction programme. The policy should also indicate that the company takes the debt issue seriously, and will support the employee in dealing with their debt problems.
Help workers find a low-cost bank account
The major South African banks all have low-fee accounts options. Having a bank account will help your employee to manage their income and expenses, and provide them with the security of banking with a formal institution.
Offer online classes and useful tools
There’s no shortage of high-quality financial planning classes on websites like Udemy and on YouTube, along with countless podcasts and online programmes where employees can learn about managing their finances. Spend some time tracking down material they might find interesting and make it available to them with the help of an in-house course coordinator to make sure your employees do make best use of this training. Consider giving them time during the week to learn or offering an incentive to employees who finish courses. Keep your eye out for budgeting and financial planning tools that could help your staff.
With strategies like these in place, employees will be better equipped to manage their finances and, therefore, focus on their work and increase their productivity. They will certainly feel that their employer cares about them leading to increased motivation, loyalty and productivity.