Financial awareness and wellbeing in the workplace

01 November 2019

This article was featured in the November 2019 issue of the magazine. 

Datagraphic’s Glyn King discusses how payroll is well-positioned to support this work

As automation technology reduces time spent on manual processes, payroll professionals can focus more on strategic tasks that have a positive impact on employee experience. 

Three quarters of UK employees have some sort of money worries (according to statistics revealed by Close Brothers Asset Management). Employee wellbeing is a top priority in most organisations and one of the biggest contributors to stress and anxiety is related to finances. Employees struggling with this can see a reduction in productivity, ability to concentrate, and absenteeism. 

There’s a clear case for taking action and supporting employee financial wellbeing and creating a healthy workplace. But how can employers help employees avoid financial difficulties, and whose responsibility in the workplace is it? 

The answer is everyone. All departments and management should help improve employee wellbeing. But payroll can specifically help with financial wellbeing, as you have the data and knowledge at your fingertips to help provide guidance to employees. If you use automation technology to help reduce the time spent on manual, repetitive payroll tasks then you’ll have more time to focus on financial wellbeing initiatives that can have a positive impact on employee experience. 

Often, financial education for those entering the workplace straight from school is limited. And for other employees, changes in their personal lives can create periods of financial hardship. For these groups, managing income and having to budget may be new or difficult. Payroll can offer advice to help employees better understand their payslips, make clearer which reward and benefit options are available, and help them save for the future. have the data and knowledge at your fingertips to help provide guidance to employees


Here are some simple ways payroll professionals can help aid financial awareness and wellbeing in the workplace:

Understanding payslips – Every week or month you provide employees with a payslip which contains lots of numbers and short-coded letters. When was the last time you explained the details of a payslip to an employee? You could help employees in their financial understanding by providing a quick reference guide with the payslip which explains what each section means. Help them understand the difference between gross and net pay, and the makeup of variable pay. 

Understanding rewards and benefits – A recent Aviva survey found 18% of employees don’t take full advantage of the benefits on offer due to lack of information. Communicating and making clear which reward and benefit options employees are entitled to can help make a big difference. For example, schemes such as salary sacrifice offer ways to save money, or childcare vouchers help new parents return to work. 

When communicating the different options available, try to be as relevant as possible to each individual employee’s needs. You can achieve this by asking your employees what benefits they would like to receive through surveys and focus groups. You can match your health and wellbeing package to what your employees really want, which will have an immediate impact on employee engagement.

Understanding saving for the future – Employees making savings for the end of their career can feel anguish if they lack understanding about the process, what they are entitled to or the value of saving for retirement. Working with your organisation’s pension providers, you can help communicate and educate employees about auto-enrolment and the pension scheme(s) available. You could even offer one-to-one drop in sessions where employees can come and talk with you or a representative from the pension provider to discuss any questions they might have or talk through their options. 

Understanding the drawback of pay on demand – Take the time to research and understand new concepts such as pay on demand, which lets workers access a percentage of their salary/wage before their official pay day. Is it suitable for all your employees? It might be an attractive option to employees who are struggling financially, but it will require even closer financial guidance and monitoring by the payroll team. You would need to make sure employees who frequently request to access pay early don’t get trapped in a cycle of living outside of their means, having a detrimental impact on their financial wellbeing and productivity.


Time to make a difference

The impact of financial worries on employee motivation and their mental health can be significant. But by offering advice, using information you already have access to, and communicating effectively with employees can have a real positive impact. 

It’s time for the payroll profession to step up and make a difference.