Senior Sustainability Adviser, BITCI
Employers have made huge strides in considering the wellbeing of their colleagues over the last decade. Mental health, which was taboo until recently, is now routinely included in strategies.
BITCI’s landmark research highlights the importance of businesses thinking beyond profit — when they include societal value and impact, sustainability is placed at the core of decisions.
Financial wellbeing and inclusivity
During the Covid-19 pandemic, wellbeing programmes became a cornerstone of employee engagement. Now, as the focus shifts to the cost of living crisis, employers should prioritise financial wellbeing — the ability to manage finances without stress and to meet commitments and needs comfortably, and with enough financial resilience to respond to short-term shocks. This is critical to employee wellbeing.
Stable employment and regular pay are basic components of financial wellbeing, but often, they are not enough. In-work poverty is increasingly prevalent. People who fall into this tend to be diverse jobseekers, part-time employed, are often lone parents or new to Ireland — and are mainly women.
Stable employment and regular pay are basic
components of financial wellbeing,
but often, they are not enough.
Financial and mental wellbeing assistance
As living costs continue to rise, anxiety levels are also increasing. Financial worries about affording essential household expenses and making ends meet will negatively impact productivity, performance and, ultimately, mental wellbeing.
Socially responsible employers recognise the importance of financial wellbeing, and many are already taking active steps, such as:
- Ensure all colleagues (including sub-contracted) are paid at least a living wage. In Ireland, this is currently €13.85 per hour.
- Increase financial literacy by signposting financial advice and guidance — practical tips on managing money, planning for key life events or claiming tax rebates.
- Support colleagues to upskill and progress into higher-paid roles. If promotion opportunities are scarce, equip colleagues for higher roles elsewhere.
- Review benefits packages to include finance-friendly initiatives – flexibility to choose the frequency of wage payments, provide Employee Assistance Programmes or ‘Bike to Work’ schemes to reduce out-of-pocket expenses.
- Implement flexible working to support colleagues to maximise disposable income — balancing hours available to work with caring responsibilities, or choice of location to reduce commuting costs.
Each of these actions can be collected into a financial wellbeing policy that sets out a commitment to supporting colleagues.
Growing responsibility for businesses
Leading employers are stepping up to support colleague financial wellbeing. In doing so, they can help reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing. This is the right thing to do from a moral sense, but it will also yield dividends in employee engagement. And for most businesses, engaged colleagues are the foundation stone for success.
BITCI is a not-for-profit organisation committed to promoting responsible and sustainable business practices. We look at sustainability in its widest sense, from economic performance to environmental footprint and social impact to good governance.