Tips for EAP Practitioners: Back to Basics – Budgeting and Debt Counselling | EAPA-SA

Financial wellness programs take the view that employee financial well-being is positively influenced by knowledge, skills, and actions that support better financial outcomes.  And, there is some evidence that financially capable employees are more likely to be engaged employees. For example, financial wellness appears to be positively correlated with satisfaction with and pride in the company where one works.1 Thus, companies can benefit greatly by helping their employees access financial wellness services.

Employers have an opportunity to offer much-needed guidance and it will pay dividends if they help employees with far more financial know-how than just where to put their retirement contributions. Many workers are desperate for help in navigating day-to-day money issues like dealing with debt and building emergency funds.

Here are three areas in which employers can empower their employees in properly managing their finances:

Budget Planning Workshops
Without a budget, employees may well struggle with managing their bills and continue to live from pay check to pay check.  Bringing in financial consultants to host budgeting workshops can educate and help ease the burden of financial stress on employees.

Employees will benefit from learn the basics of creating a spending plan, managing bank accounts and savings accounts and, most importantly, developing the confidence to take control of their finances instead of letting their finances take control of them.1

Budgeting workshops do not need to be boring, one-way training sessions. Particularly appealing to younger workers, finance apps are a growing marketplace in South Africa and are a great tool to educate and put financial control in the hands of employees.  There are South African apps for budgets, consolidating debt, logging fuel expenditure and even understanding more about the stock market.

Financial Coaching and Counselling
In addition, it is hugely beneficial for employees to understand their spending habits and find where their own strengths and weaknesses lie when it comes to managing their personal finances. Providing workers with financial coaching services through an EAP is a great tool for proactively approaching the problem of uncontrolled spending.  EAPs offer tremendous educational resources to help employees to deal with and even avoid financial crises.

  • Employees appreciate the convenience of being able to setting their own schedule with a coach and maintaining an ongoing appointment until they reach their goals.
  • Coaches help employees to set goals and further understand what emotional triggers may be causing destructive behaviours to their financial well-being.
  • When employees start to make spending decisions that are harmful and based on emotional triggers, coaches can hold them accountable by helping them reflect on why they’re trying to break these habits and encouraging them to stay focused on their goals.
  • Over the course of time, coaches and employees build a rapport. This eases the stress of meeting with a coach and, once they start to see results, may even make it a pleasant experience for employees.2

When it comes to educating staff on financial wellbeing, counselling is especially attractive to younger workers who recognise individual financial counselling and coaching as a valuable workplace benefit.

Debt Counselling
Financial wellness programmes can be a part of a larger undertaking by an organisation to address the indebtedness of its employees. Through enlisting the assistance of appropriate service providers, it is possible to introduce systems and processes, and provide education that enables employees to deal with high levels of indebtedness, and undertake responsible financial planning.

Employees who are drowning in debt have low employee-engagement scores and cannot be active citizens contributing to alleviating challenges in their communities. Since saving is simply deferred consumption, it is a surprise that South Africa has a low savings rate. By introducing financial wellness programmes that tackle employee debt, corporates will indirectly contribute to building a savings culture in South Africa – an important contributor to economic growth.3


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