Unfortunately, financial health and wellbeing remain elusive for many Australians. In University of Melbourne and Commonwealth Bank research, 31 per cent of respondents had a low savings balance, 37 per cent said they couldn’t manage a major unexpected expense, and one in four said they didn’t enjoy life because of the way they were managing money.
Josh Vernon, Wagestream Australia's Founder and CEO, says there’s a misconception that poor financial health only affects people earning under a certain income. However, people on high incomes can suffer from income creep, making employee financial wellness “a pervasive challenge.”
Rachel Davis, Wagestream's Head of Product, adds another misconception is that financial wellbeing is simply the opposite of financial hardship. However, the evidence indicates a population-wide need for greater employee financial wellness.
Employee wellbeing involves how workers feel about themselves and their jobs. Individuals enjoying strong wellbeing are more likely to be engaged, productive and working to their full potential.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged employee wellbeing enormously, with an EY report recommending employers take steps to help staff stay connected, feel supported and ensure they have adequate flexibility to work as effectively as possible in the circumstances.
Humanforce’s CEO Clayton Pyne notes modern deskless workers have been particularly affected. “We've endured repeated hard lockdowns and seen impacts across many of our customers, including the retail, hospitality, stadium and event space.”
Pyne explains Humanforce emphasises employee wellness by giving deskless workers access to technology and services that improve wellbeing throughout their working lives.
For example, Humanforce’s mobile app allows shift-based workers and remote teams to stay connected and collaborate, regardless of the time or location. Deskless workers can also access their schedules and swap shifts on the go.
Similarly, our innovative rostering software empowers staff to take control of their schedules by inputting their availability and work preferences. Tools like these provide a greater sense of autonomy and control, thereby enhancing work-life balance and job satisfaction.
Meanwhile, inbuilt data analytics enable your HR team and managers to track trends associated with employee engagement and morale, such as lateness, sick days, or dissatisfaction in particular roles. This ensures you can make proactive improvements before issues escalate and impact overall performance.
Rachel Davis, Wagestream’s Head of Product, says the physical, mental and financial aspects of employee wellbeing are completely entwined.
“Financial wellbeing comes to work with you in the same way as your mental and physical wellbeing. You can put out baskets of fruit to support physical health, but if you have financially stressed employees, you're not tackling what’s important to them.”
Eliza Burley, Head of Employee Experience at Australian aged care provider Estia Health, agrees finances are vital to employee wellbeing. “If we think about the whole person, understanding how their finances might impact their lifestyle, their day-to-day decisions, and helping them progress, is really important.”
An employee value proposition (EVP) is a consistent, clear message about what it’s like to work at your organisation. A good EVP communicates the unique benefits and value you can offer, helping you attract and retain top talent.
Given most people work to earn money, financial wellbeing is a driving factor for many employees. Pyne says focusing on your people – including their need for financial health and wellness – is “the key to turning attrition into attraction, especially with COVID-19, which has exacerbated the ongoing war for talent.”
Burley notes employee experience is also crucial to recruiting and retaining quality staff in the competitive aged care sector. “Our people are our products and services. If we can help them be at their best, that's going to translate into better experiences for families and individuals in our care. Understandably, wellbeing underpins many of those messages.”
To better support customers like Estia – and with their shared focus on developing smart technology to enhance employee experience – Humanforce is collaborating with Wagestream to provide a solution that encourages the behaviours that underpin financial wellbeing. According to Josh Vernon, co-founder and CEO of Wagestream Australia, “The first thing is giving people the ability to track their income on a day-by-day basis. Understanding how much you’re earning versus your outgoings makes it easier to spend less than you earn and reduces anxiety about finances.”
Next is helping people develop capacity to absorb unexpected shocks, followed by the journey towards longer-term financial security through processes like savings automation. “Automating behavior and personalising it to an individual’s financial situation removes friction,” Vernon says. “For example, if you're a shift-based worker on Humanforce earning $28 per hour, you can arrange to receive $20, while $8 goes towards growing your savings.”
Importantly, promoting financial wellness in the workplace also has organisational benefits. Vernon puts it this way: “As much as we all want to do the best things by our teams, ideally there’s also a benefit to an organisation's bottom line.”
For Burley, employee engagement and retention requires balancing organisational values with commercial needs like filling rosters. Workplace financial wellbeing is one vital aspect. “I don't think we should underestimate how important financial decisions are and how they impact staff’s broader life. For us, it's about building trust with our people. and if people trust us, they stay.”
Financial and mental wellness are closely linked. As Beyond Blue point out, mental health issues can make it harder to stay on top of our finances and experiencing financial stress can impact our mental health.
Lack of financial wellbeing in the workplace can adversely affect people’s ability to function well in their roles. Conversely, gaining greater financial control can have positive flow-on effects.
While technology and financial wellness at work might seem to share little common ground, the opposite is true. Pyne explains over 60% of workers say their tech tools don’t help them manage their working lives.
“There's a communication and an empowerment gap. At Humanforce, we’ve worked to close the gap around how you empower your team and attract and retain the right talent.
“Our vision today, as it's always been, is to make work easier and life better by focusing on the needs and fulfillment of the worker, along with the efficiency and optimisation of the business.”’
Watch the full webinar with Wagestream (Earnd), Estia and Humanforce here to learn more about financial wellbeing, what it means for you and your employees.