Alongside Celeste Schneider, CPO at National Grid, Jeremy facilitated an intimate executive boardroom discussion 'Supporting employee financial wellbeing when times are tight'. Here are Jeremy's key takeaways from his session.
Organizations are increasingly focused on the financial wellbeing of their global populations, driven by three key macro trends:
Inflation in most regions is increasing the cost of living and driving higher salary demands.
Market volatility is creating fear, uncertainty and doubt about stock plans, retirement funds and personal investments.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund forecast that a third of countries will enter recession over the next 18 months, driving the need for greater employee resilience.
There were 3 main concerns amongst CHROs in attendance:
Role of wellness and budgets
Organizations are recognizing the need to help employees make their pay stretch further and are increasingly being asked for higher than budgeted pay increases. This means CHROs are needing to balance employee demands with a tougher budgetary environment. The good news is, CHROs are also aware that preventative healthcare and wellbeing tools are key to controlling future costs.
Diversity and inclusion
Social mobility and DE&I are a key focus for organizations. Those with disabilities are 7 x more likely to use food banks. Over 70% of those who identify as Hispanic have reported financial issues, versus less than 30% of those who identify as white Caucasian.
CHROs recognize that mental, physical, social and financial health are intertwined and that the programs need to work in harmony. Every company offered a wellness program, but most say it is difficult to cater for varied demographics – for example those working in production versus senior executives. CHROs need to recruit from within the communities they operate in and help every employee thrive.
Due to a lack of positive role models in some communities, the employer needs to step in and guide healthy money and wellness habits.
Benefits communication and understanding
Most organizations offer their people a lot of benefits, but employees don’t fully understand them or utilize benefits offered. CHROs are asking their vendors to do more, to drive value from spend.
Organizations are using Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to listen to employee concerns and aid communication. Many feel that employees respond better to the thoughts of their peers than to management or benefits departments.
The good news is that when communication of wellbeing programs is done well, an increase in employee engagement scores follows. And in a post-Covid world, people are more aware of others’ suffering, which means wellbeing programs have the potential to be more successful.
Where organizations attitude to wellness differs
There was a rough 50/50 split between those that need to work hard to prove a return on investment on their wellness programs and those who have ample budget to “do the right thing”.
Some CHROs were further along the journey of offering equivalent programs to their non-US employees. A few CHROs are directly contacted by their CEO to ask what they’re doing on wellbeing, versus a few who feared senior execs “don’t understand”.
CHROs are very interested in wellbeing, but as this is a small part of their overall responsibilities, they will need to rely on their wellbeing and benefits leads to advise them on their strategy. Vendors need to work harder to become partners that support their customers and drive impact, collaborating with other vendors to create value from spending.
To find out more information, or if you would like to chat, get in touch.