Multi-faceted financial wellbeing in EMEA

2 min read

Multi-faceted financial wellbeing in EMEA

We’re lifting the lid on employee financial wellbeing across EMEA and have gathered some useful insights from our 2024 Global financial wellbeing report. The aim is to help you understand disparate financial attitudes, and support employee financial wellbeing challenges across Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

The good news is, 75% of EMEA employees are actively working towards improving their financial skills and knowledge. Although this is a majority, it’s still much lower than other regions: LATAM: 91%, APAC: 84% and N.America: 83%. We found ourselves wondering why this is the case, and among the many reasons this could be, like different social welfare systems, is it connected to a lack of financial literacy?

Literacy and debt

Financial literacy in Europe isn’t as strong as it should be, 18% of EU citizens display a low level, 64% a medium level, and 18% a high level of financial literacy. Strong financial literacy is essential for economic and business growth. Whereas poor financial literacy correlates to ineffective spending, planning, expensive borrowing, and poor debt management. When people make the wrong financial decision, it can result in bad debt, and we know that can lead to poor mental health.

64% of people in EMEA say that ‘managing my debt’ is a financial goal, and this is most true in South Africa (89%) (particularly for GenZ: 90%), UAE (78%) and in the UK (67%). Access to debt in South Africa has become much easier in recent years, and GenZ is the first generation to live it and with much lower levels of literacy and access to employment. Interestingly 42% of South African GenZs have below average financial wellbeing, that’s 4% less than the rest of EMEA.

UAE and debt have a complicated history. In 2022, the law changed, and it was no longer illegal to mismanage debt. Previously if your check bounced, or you defaulted on a loan, you were breaking the law. The change in the law, and attitude, has most likely had an impact on people’s experience with debt in UAE today.

It’s important to note that every country, and even regions within, have cultural, government and societal factors that influence how the global respondents answer our questions. It’s also important to note that perceptions of different words and understandings will change from person to person and place to place. With that in mind, the role of this article is to highlight where employers might like to dive deeper with employees.

Feelings about money

When it comes to financial sentiments, people in EMEA present complex emotions about money. 53% of EMEA (global avg. 44%) feel pessimistic about their country’s future, and what’s intriguing from this region is that most people (54%) disagree that they feel ashamed of their financial situation, and this is most true in Germany (65%) and Spain (65%). While employees in EMEA disagree that they feel ashamed of their finances, on the other hand only 36% feel proud of their financial situation.

In Spain, it wasn’t until 1975 that women could access financial and banking services without their husband, could that still be impacting Spanish people’s perception of finances today?

Germany, due to a complex history of cultural change and recent concerns over dangerous undercurrents of extremist views, has caused the government to confront linked attitudes such as shame. An understanding of Germany’s political environment gives a possible explanation to this insight. A recent report from BaFin, ‘Adult Financial Literacy Competencies in Germany’ found that in Germany you just don’t speak about money. The question is, how can employers support cultural taboos, and conflicting attitudes to money? Yet another reason to check how your German employee cohort is feeling about their financial wellbeing right now.

Since the data can be interpreted in different ways, it’s important to take time to explore the possible meanings for different international employee groups across your organization. For example, ‘disagreeing with feeling ashamed – but not overly proud of your finances’ could be interpreted in several ways, in fact, if you’re utilizing the report to understand your global workforce, then use the data to ask the question, and find out the reality for your people because every individual, every country, every region varies enormously.

The only way to find out the reality for your employees is to take a pulse check on their financial health (like a financial health checkup), from there you can find out how you can best support their needs.

In the workplace

When we ask employees about the employers’ role in their financial goals and wellbeing, the report data should act as steppingstone to encourage deeper analysis in your organization. For example, 63% of employees in EMEA say they believe their company views workers as easily replaceable, this is most true in the UK (66%), South Africa (66%) and UAE (66%). In comparison to the other regions, employees in EMEA are most challenged by their value in the workplace. Or perhaps this acts as a reflection of the labor market across the region. Whereas in LATAM it is: 61% workers feel easily replaceable, N.America : 52% and APAC: 48%.

Albeit multi-faceted, employers should see this insight as a huge opportunity, and there’s good news too. 76% of EMEA employees agree that a better understanding of money will help them achieve their life goals and 52% say they are feeling hopeful about their finances. Together we can grow this sense of hope and change your people’s financial futures for the better.

Find more insights in our 2024 Global financial wellbeing report and open a world of opportunity for your EMEA employee community.

Or if you want to take your research one step further join a discussion on how to make change with global leaders. Register for our 2024 Global financial wellbeing forum: Creating stability in an age of conflict and difference.

Register for the 2024 Global financial wellbeing forum