It’s a paradox that in this social media-splintered, individualist age, we’ve all got a chance to understand each other a little better.
One of the reasons I blog is to create connections with people, clients or otherwise.
Which is why I try to write about themes of common concern…
…one, in particular, is managing our finances. Many of the issues around this emotive, sensitive area have been well rehearsed.
But I thought I’d return to it this time by virtue of the survey carried out by Punter Southall that I shared with you last week.
Punter Southall asked more than 300 companies, large and small, about the impact of the pandemic on their people and how they, as employers, viewed the lives of their staff beyond the office.
One key question we asked was what employers currently believe to be the most important employee benefit their company provides.
The most valued employee benefit
Given the circumstances, I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised at which employee benefit companies ranked as their most valued: flexible working.
This was closely followed by retirement planning, and then help in the form of an employee assistance programme.
But there was one answer employers gave which told a more eyebrow-raising story. It was the answer to question five, asking what the adverse outcome of poor financial wellbeing might be on staff. 97.7 per cent identified the primary response as stress.
Most of us have stress in our lives - sometimes, if at the right level, it can be positive - but too much is corrosive and overwhelming.
If employers recognise that its impact is damaging, you’d be forgiven for thinking they might urgently prioritise action to help their people grapple with this age-old challenge.
But further answers indicated that they don’t see it as their responsibility (only one percent of those surveyed thought companies should take the lead with this) and that it should largely be down to individual responsibility.
The right tools to help
Yet despite 80% of respondents agreeing that increased financial wellbeing would be beneficial for their employees, under a third of employers (29%) have a firm idea of how to help their employees in this area.
So although people certainly have more tools to manage their money and more help and advice is available to do so…
… that has not been as transformative as some might claim.
Effectively, it seems we have yet to arrive at a place where people are truly in control of their own destiny in the shape of financial wellbeing.
I have tried with this blog, and across our communications, to present a more human face in an industry that can sometimes seem mechanical in content and contact.
Our teams have spent years guiding and advising hundreds of companies and thousands of people on matters financial.
And we see that, during times like this, making that connection, whether it’s working with employers or individuals, really matters to all concerned.
By setting us apart, the pandemic experience has, paradoxically, prompted us to think again about what we share and what brings us together.
Our survey suggests the desire to achieve some level of financial wellbeing is one goal we could all constructively work towards.