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How organisations can increase employee financial wellbeing through considering money attitudes

 

It’s easily ten years since workplaces started ‘10,000 step challenges’ and the focus on employee health and wellbeing became commonplace and the links between physical health and employee productivity were, by then, more well-known.  Technology and wearables influenced a more pro-active approach to health and wellbeing – with more complex challenges, new activities as well as nutrition.  More recently health initiatives have begun incorporating mental health.  Meanwhile, other pillars of wellbeing have had less attention and financial wellbeing programs have continued to focus on budgets and retirement planning.

According to Aon’s Global Financial Wellbeing study, only 7% of employers surveyed rated their financial wellbeing programs as effective. Yet a recent study advised that more than half of Australians indicate they have some level of anxiety about money and no income or demographic group is immune from financial stress [1].

The way we spend has been disrupted, with an increasingly cashless society that is disconnected from monthly spending – 86% [2] of people included in a recent study don’t know what they spend each month because they believe it is too hard to calculate.

Money continues to be a major cause of anxiety [3]. Many families have significant mortgages [4].  Pay remains flat.  Jobs are changing shape.  More of us are single and this is predicted to rise [5].  Divorce rates are still high [6].

For employers this is a challenge – successful organisations understand the reward that comes from helping employees to achieve financial wellbeing; not just to meet day to day needs – but to lay down strong financial foundations for the future [7].  These same organisations understand that the superannuation guarantee payment is not just a business cost, but a source of real business value. Investing in employees’ future and supporting them as they develop a mature approach to money matters is increasingly a feature of organisations [8] which are recognised as employers of choice – able to attract and retain the best talent.

Foundations for a brighter future

In their highly acclaimed book Spenditude, co-authors Paul Gordon and Janine Robertson, spell out what it takes to develop “a life changing attitude to money” [9].

They suggest people first identify their own approach to money. Are they a spender, happy to spend more than they earn with little thought for the future? Are they a defender, always seeking out value before spending, and firmly fixed on achieving financial security long term? Or are they a “slender” [10] – somewhere in the middle?

According to Gordon and Robertson, our progress toward financial security depends on our “spenditude” – our spending attitude. They believe it’s never too late to adjust behaviours and make significant progress – though an early start is a real advantage.

Encouraging employees to build awareness of their spenditude and then use that awareness to prompt behavioural change has a clear impact on their long-term financial wellbeing.

smartMonday’s focus is on working with organisations and their people to build financial wellbeing; laying down the foundations for sustained financial independence. Helping them understand their spenditude is an important first step.

Left unchecked financial anxiety can have a ripple effect on our overall wellbeing.

Spenditude

Source: Spenditude 2019 [11]

Gordon and Robertson maintain that achieving financial wellbeing is much simpler if people are well rested and take the time to consider their financial decisions, asking the simple question “what would a defender do?” [12]

Gordon and Robertson believe it’s also important for people to understand the spending profile of their partner, which – if wildly different – can prove a source of conflict unless the couple can “get under the spreadsheets” [13] and understand each other’s spenditude.

Gordon and Robertson suggest that once people understand their spending attitude – their spenditude – they need to consider where they are in terms of their financial lifespan. They suggest people think of this as a timeline – where Monday to Friday spans the 20s to the 50s when people are at work, earning money and making financial and investment decisions that will prepare them for the “weekend” [14] of their 60s and 70s and the following week as they enter old age.

Gordon and Robertson believe women in particular, who may take time out of the paid workforce to raise a family, need to consider this long-term view of their financial wellbeing.

Spenditude may provide a practical support for anyone seeking to improve their financial wellbeing and to achieve sustained financial independence.

Spenditude

Source: Spenditude 2019 [15]

Boost your financial fitness

Supporting your people with their financial wellbeing can be an investment in your and their future. smartMonday’s smartCoaches (financial fitness experts) are available to work with clients to improve your people’s financial wellbeing, and guide them to a more secure financial future.

Achieving financial wellbeing – like achieving any other sort of health – requires work. Smart businesses can support their people, sharing with them practical ideas for how to get their finances in order today and prepare for a secure financial future.

What is smartMonday?

Superannuation – and SO much more!

At smartMonday, we’ve combined the expertise and financial strength of Aon with a new smarter, action-oriented approach – to help you turn super into a true business asset. We’re making super simple; giving your employees smart, easy ways to take control of their financial future while providing you with another way to engage and retain the best people.

  • We care about the little guys
  • Empowering clients
  • We help members grow their wealth
  • More than super

When your business partners with smartMonday, you’re not just partnering with a trusted, multi-award winning corporate superannuation fund, but with a worldwide group of companies that understand how super fits into the bigger HR & business picture. With premium servicing and customised solutions, we’ll work by your side to help simplify super and turn it into a valuable asset for engaging and motivating your team.

References

[1] Financial Wellness in the Australian Workplace, AMP & The Behavioural Architects, 2018

[2] Know Your Numbers Index, UBank, 2018

[3] 8 of the top 20 concerns in ‘Australia Talks’ related to money (Nov 2019)

[4] ABS data 5601.0 – Lending to households and businesses, Australia, Sep 2019

[5] Deloitte Report, The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human

[6] Australian Institute of Family Studies, Divorce Rates in Australia https://aifs.gov.au/facts-and-figures/divorce-rates-australia

[7] https://www.apsc.gov.au/how-employee-health-and-wellbeing-affects-organisational-productivity

[8] Aon Financial Wellbeing Study

[9] Source:  Spenditude, Wiley Publishing 2019

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

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Paul Gordon

Paul Gordon  

Principal and Head of Financial Wellbeing
Contact Paul