Teresa Beach: UK HR Director, Mercer
Jeremy Milton: Financial Wellbeing Leader, Mercer

Nick McClelland: Growth Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits
Katerina Psychopaida: Employee Experience Solutions Leader, Mercer


Help employees to help themselves when it comes to financial health


Equip employees to cope with an impending financial wellbeing crisis. That was the message from a panel of Mercer experts during our latest webinar, on the future of wellbeing.


Teresa Beach, our UK HR director, warned that, “As corporate financial health has been tested, the financial health of every employee will be tested too. Employers must better equip employees to help themselves. Financial wellbeing is no longer an optional extra.”


Nick McClelland, one of our partners, explained the journey to this point: “As the coronavirus struck, the focus was on supporting the physical and mental health of employees. Then social wellbeing jumped up the agenda as we worried about how people were coping with being locked up. Now there will be another shift. Mental wellbeing will remain on top but financial wellbeing will come to the fore [as we deal with the economic ramifications to come].”


“Before Covid, 11 million people had less than £100 to cover things like their boiler breaking down. Now people are struggling with day-to-day expenses,” said Jeremy Milton, Financial Wellbeing Leader for Mercer, highlighting the extent to which employees have no financial buffer in place. “As furloughs start to unwind, unemployment is expected to rise.”


“It’s the elephant in the room,” added Katerina Psychopaida, our Employee Experience Leader. “People need help to manage their anxieties around what the future holds. ‘Will I have a roof over my head if I lose my job?’ ‘Is my family safe?’ They can’t focus on being productive when they’re worried about that.”


Asked to what extent employers have a duty to look after the financial wellbeing of employees, Katerina said it’s a joint responsibility: “The employer needs to facilitate to direct the employee to where they can go if their financial wellbeing is dropping.”


Nick had a warning for employers that were nervous about wanting to support people in this unprecedented situation. “It’s a time to be brave. You can do nothing, but you’ll be criticised and chastised. You very rarely get chastised for doing too much. When you ask employees who they trust for advice and guidance, they always say family and friends. Second place is always their employer. This is an amazing opportunity to embrace that and go over the top. They will repay you in spades.”


In terms of what the support should look like, Jeremy advised a return to the basic principles of saving, sticking to a budget and having a budget in the first place. “We need to bring people to a focal point with education and challenge beliefs on things like pensions. How do we help build resources, not just for this crisis, but the future in general,” he said. “There’s a risk of increasing ‘bad debt’ people will struggle with afterwards. Four million people have turned to credit and are using credit to live day-to-day. Building resilience is really important. We’ve created a free resource, a financial wellbeing toolkit to help people. It doesn’t take the problem away, but it helps them understand how they can improve their situation.”


Talking about the future of wellbeing in general, two of the panellists also stressed the increasing importance of technology for connecting people with benefits. “Technology is a great enabler to connect with employees right now,” said Katerina. “If you’re looking to capture what employees want, wanting to reduce costs, without reducing engagement, and making data-driven decisions, it can help with all that.”


“It’s too easy to fire out an email to everyone, that won’t have an impact,” said Nick. “You need to be able to nudge people on a personal basis. Take into account their personality, create wellbeing communities and communicate through those. There are technologies around gamification, social models and two-way dialogue. Today we’re launching something that will fill social channels. Something we’ve been working on to achieve that utopia.”


Wrapping up the webinar, Teresa pointed out that wellbeing has never been so much at the forefront of people’s minds. “It’s a chance to really step up. We know employee wellbeing is a fundamental part of the employee experience. It drives productivity and innovation. It’s a chance to be recognised as an employer that supported people and their families.”


Other topics discussed in the Changing future of wellbeing webinar included supporting the increasing number of people working from home, the importance of an employee-centric approach and reinventing outdated benefits offerings.


You can find out more details about the topics discussed on the webinar here:

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