The way we talk about cost of living – as a “crisis” and full of doom-and-gloom – may be doing more harm than good.

While it’s undoubtedly important for your employees to understand the significance of inflation and interest-rate increases, focusing too much on the negative creates a sense of inertia, and risks employees switching off because it all seems too hard. 

But putting their heads in the sand and avoiding taking action is one of the worst things employees can do.  So, employers have an important role to play to help their teams feel empowered, not disengaged in the face of cost of living increases. And it starts with how you communicate and frame the situation or help available. 

Think about the language you use  

Almost all employers will be thinking about what they can do to educate and support their employees as costs rise. Given the quantity of headlines focused on cost of living impacts there is a risk that people are getting over-saturated and disconnected. Getting the tone of communications right is key – make it understandable, relevant and accessible for all your employees. 

It’s also important to make sure your language is as inclusive as possible. So it’s clear to ALL your employees that support is available. “Sometimes people think financial wellbeing programmes are only for people with lots of money. They think talking about money is only for the rich!” says Shah Abbasi, Head of Coaching, Octopus Money Coach. 

When you’re engaging your own employees around financial wellbeing – through your communications, surveys, or events – always lead with questions about their hopes and goals. People will feel more inspired to act when messages are positive and connected to their life goals. 

Keep long-term financial health in mind 

Just because the current focus is on the present day changes to cost of living, that doesn’t mean people can afford to stop thinking about their longer term financial health. 

At Smart Pension, Amanda Hall, head of customer engagement and financial wellbeing says:
We try to help people remember this balance by talking about 3 Future P’s – People, Planet, Profit on balance with the 3 present day C’s, which are Covid, Cost of Living and Chaos caused by political uncertainty. We want to change the narrative to focus on empowering communities, employers and members to make small micro actions. Over time these actions  can make a big difference to their sense of wellbeing, financial futures and avoiding the hopelessness, and helplessness, instilled by the news headlines covering the ‘3 Cs’.

Find new ways to keep financial wellbeing visible

Offering regular sessions on general topics, or tailored sessions on specific products to help make finances a part of everyday working life and a ‘normal’ topic to engage with at work continues to be important. “Persistence is key” Michaela O’Neill, Head of Reward and HR Analytics at global market research business Ipsos told us in a recent webinar

But to avoid employees ‘switching off’ it’s important to refresh your approaches to customer engagement and find different ways to engage beyond the standard internal communications. We often see uptake rates of 60% for financial coaching (compared with 5% average benchmark for financial benefits) through our focus on multi-channel communications. 

As an employer you could: 

  • Introduce financial wellbeing ambassadors or “first-aiders” to put a human face to money conversations. 
  • Create a Slack or Teams “channel” where people can volunteer to become ambassadors and others can ask questions. 
  • Find ways to personalise messages to specific groups or ‘milestone moments’. 
  • Leverage your existing internal networks and create events bespoke to their needs and worries (e.g. Parents or D&I networks).

Be a bridge to resources

To help combat the volume of news coming out, employers can be a trusted resource to help employees filter through the headlines or challenge the way things are reported to get a truer sense of the impacts. 

Amanda Hall at Smart Pension says: “We delivered a 10-day financial detox to help our colleagues review and recalibrate their finances. For each day we provided a short written guide, a video with a relatable colleague story, and links to more information. We also created a Slack channel where people shared stories of how it worked for them. It really helps to create engagement and bring money conversations to the table so teams can share challenges and successes. Our internal financial wellbeing channel is popular and our colleagues are happy to talk and share their views and ideas on personal finance.”

One of the few times people will engage with their finances is when they look at their payslip each month. Increasingly these are being delivered in an electronic format. Employers could use them to alert staff to some of the changes affecting them, opportunities available to help them with their money, or resources and guides.

1:1 financial coaching

Money is still a taboo subject but there really has never been a better time to start this conversation. We know from our own research that 89% of people want someone they can talk to about money who will offer genuine, practical, and impartial advice.

Having a coach helps employees translate and connect the technicalities of financial planning to their real life. Coaches are especially valuable when circumstances change (for the worse or better) because a lot of the financial advice is generic and not tailored to individual needs. When employees are able to talk openly about money worries, and their goals, they are better able to find solutions that are tailored to them. This is at the core of how our coaches provide bespoke advice to each individual’s situation.

Our coaches have shared some of the money mindsets they’re seeing – and what the cost of living crisis could mean for them. 

The rate of inflation has now reached a 40-year high. And while the Bank of England is committed to bringing inflation down, it’s forecast that costs of living will remain high throughout 2023 before easing up in 2024.

Helping your teams take positive steps to build their financial health will be an important way to support them. But the cost of living crisis is going to challenge many of us to reassess our mindsets and beliefs about money and how we prepare to weather the next year of increased costs. 

What is a mindset?

A mindset is the way of thinking about or framing yourself and the world around you, and it’s informed by your personal beliefs and values. For example, if you develop a mindset that says ‘I am bad with money’ you might avoid taking actions to improve your financial situation because of that belief. 

Our coaches have shared some of the money mindsets they’re seeing – and what the cost of living crisis could mean for them. 

The Powerless Pessimist

This person thinks the cost of living crisis is something out of their control, so feels disconnected from the need to take action. They believe the effects of rising interest rates and inflation are the responsibility of the government or their employer to solve. 

We asked our 2,600 LinkedIn followers how they felt about cost of living increases, and 42% confirmed that they felt pretty pessimistic. 

How they’ll be impacted: 

  • Without any investment in their financial health now, this person might struggle more later down the line. 
  • Most employers won’t be able to raise wages in line with inflation, and any government support will likely be focused on the lowest earners. 
  • They’ll need to lean into the situation more and start thinking now about how they’ll be impacted, and the small steps they could take to improve their financial health.

The Daily Budget Hustler

Someone who thrives on finding a discount and takes pride in never paying full price for anything. Knows where every penny goes month by month. They’re ready to take on the cost of living crisis with super restrictive approaches and excessive frugality. 

How they’ll be impacted: 

  • While balancing income and outgoings is a critical part of good budgeting as costs increase, there’s a risk that this person gets too focused on managing day-to-day costs and forgets to keep longer term money goals in mind. 
  • Our LinkedIn poll results told us that 38% of people feel positive about their budgets. But we know from coaching over 8000 employees that only 20% of people have an emergency savings fund to fall back on if unexpected costs come up. 
  • So, while this person may be more prepared than most to weather increasing costs based on their strong saving mentality, typically this approach isn’t sustainable in the longer term. 
  • Our coaches typically recommend avoiding an overly restrictive approach to budgeting. It’s important to focus on giving ourselves space in our budget for small luxuries and treats and stuff we enjoy, so we’re not solely focused on what we have to cut. This is especially true at the moment when larger life goals might be put on hold because of the impact of inflation or rising interest rates.

The Relatively Relaxed

Someone who feels fairly at ease despite the headlines. Already lives within their means, is a middle or high earner and is pretty confident they have good money habits, so doesn’t feel the need to change behaviour much. 

Eleven percent of people in our LinkedIn poll confirmed they were not thinking about how cost of living rises would impact them yet. 

How they’ll be impacted: 

  • Similar to the Powerless Pessimist, this person might get caught out given the length of time inflation and interest rates are predicted to last (the Bank of England estimates rates will remain high through to 2024). So simply maintaining good spending habits might not be enough. 
  • Speaking to someone could help this person put their current spending habits into context, and look further into the future to understand how they’ll be impacted and adjust accordingly.

The YOLO

An impulsive personality type who doesn’t think twice about spending on something they want. Act now, and ask questions later. May struggle to balance short-term desires with long term goals.

How they’ll be impacted: 

  • A cousin to the Powerless Pessimist (in that they don’t think they need to take action), this person’s downfall might instead be their optimism that things will work out somehow without them having to change their behaviour.
  • But sometimes it really is as simple as making sure people are aware of how to balance their income and outgoings. And most people will have access to simple tools to help them review their outgoings more regularly via a banking or savings app. 
  • Suzanne Wildblood, one of our financial coaches says “The accepted wisdom about budgeting tends to focus on cutting back – which can often turn people off. Coaches can help challenge this mindset and help people think more about spending better.”

The Doom-Scroller

Characterised by late night phone scrolling, consuming too much news, and constantly threat-scanning for what could go wrong. This person may struggle to sift through the headlines in order to know what advice to follow, or how to apply it to their own life.

How they’ll be impacted: 

  • The negative headlines are going to continue so this person will need help to cut through the complexity, so they can feel empowered to take action. 
  • Negative information overload might lead them to either inertia or fear based decision-making, both of which could mean poor outcomes for their financial health. 
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to financial education or advice but we know that having someone to talk to about money is the number one way to help people feel better about their financial future. 
  • And providing financial education that’s tailored to lifestages can also be a great way to help make guidance relevant and relatable to your employees.

We’re curious…what’s your mindset about money at the moment?

We spoke to our coaches and wealth managers at Brewin Dolphin to get their top 4 recommendations for your employees!

Cost of living increases are affecting everyone, regardless of salary or wealth. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to financial help – especially when there are external factors at play like inflation and rising interest rates. Everyone will feel the impact differently based on their individual circumstances, mindset, and life goals. 

But there are some tried and tested money fundamentals every one of your employees should be considering to build their financial health and resilience through the current economic uncertainty.  

Simple Budgeting Techniques  

Sometimes it really is as simple as making sure people are aware of how to balance their income and outgoings. 

Building a budget is the first place all of us should start. Most people will have access to simple tools to help them review their outgoings more regularly via a banking or savings app. But often it’s not something people have a good handle on. 

Emma Cowley, an investment manager at Brewin Dolphin says: “The first step to creating a sustainable approach to spending and saving is just being aware of where your money is going every month. The second is to make sure that any new budgets are realistic. If you’re feeling under pressure the temptation might be to eliminate all unnecessary spending. But making sure little luxuries are built in and some joyful spending remains will help you stick to it longer.” 

Our coaches also recommend avoiding an overly restrictive approach to budget. It’s important to focus on giving ourselves space in our budget for small luxuries and treats and stuff we enjoy, so we’re not solely focused on what we have to cut. This is especially true at the moment larger life goals might be put on hold because of the impact of inflation or rising interest rates. 

Emergency Savings 

As a general rule, our coaches recommend having a minimum of three months’ salary in emergency savings. But still, only 20% of employees we work with are actively looking to save. They typically have other priorities for their money. But emergency funds are one of the single biggest contributors to financial resilience. 

While day-to-day costs are increasing, the inclination to save ‘for a rainy day’ might feel counterintuitive. And it can feel daunting when you’re starting from 0 (and have other things to save for) but starting very small and building from there is better than never starting at all! 

Short, medium and long-term goals 

There is a lot of uncertainty about how long we’ll be feeling the effects of inflation and interest rate rises. And that uncertainty can make it hard to plan, feel in control or accept shifts to your life goals. 

But a key part of financial resilience is being able to prioritise your goals, and that means being clear on the short, medium or long term trade-offs you might need to make. Breaking your goals down into stages will help you get clear on what behaviours you might need to change, and for how long.

Emma Cowley, an investment manager at Brewin Dolphin says: “There are no hard and fast rules about what works best, so it’s important to keep your money mindset flexible. There will be some months where you might exceed your budget, or not hit your savings target. Life isn’t always predictable! So you need to allow your plans and goals to evolve as things change. But working towards something will help to make sure you’re making progress, even if it’s not perfect.

The Right Support 

Money is complicated. And the advice available can sometimes seem inaccessible and complex. But knowledge is power, and the more you know the better able you’ll be to make money decisions that are right for you and your circumstances. We also know from our research, having someone to talk to about money is the number one thing that helps people feel better about their financial future. 

Now, more than ever, it’s important to be honest about what you don’t understand – rather than put your head in the sand and hope it’ll go away. 

Emma Cowley, from Brewin Dolphin says: “The biggest red herring we see is the assumption that financial advice is too expensive, or not available to everyone. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Talking about money is one of the most important ways to improve your financial health and knowledge.” 

Sam Spurell, head coach at Octopus MoneyCoach says: “Our research shows that 89% of people want someone to talk to about money, and it’s the number one thing that helps people feel better about their financial future. Financial education and 1-to-1 financial coaching also consistently rank highest as most wanted financial benefits.”

Our coaches share alternative ways employers can help their teams to build better long-term money habits.

With costs of living continuing to rise, employers may be considering direct cash payments or salary increases to support their people. PwC and Barclays are two recent examples of companies who’ve taken this decision.

But paying more to compensate for increasing costs of living isn’t the only way employers can support their employees at the moment. It’s also not a viable solution for those who are already operating under tighter budget constraints.

In fact, it might not even be the best way to support people. Long-term financial resilience is about building new habits and changing spending and saving mindsets. A short term injection of cash may help pay bills now, but is less likely to change behaviour for the future.

Here’s five alternative ways employers can support their people.

Office life and working patterns  

For some, working one less day in the office and reducing petrol, train ticket or parking costs could make a big difference to their budgets. 

And for those that do need to keep coming into the office, consider whether an investment in upgrading kitchen equipment or coffee facilities could help many make more cost effective choices around food purchases. 

Where that’s not possible, engaging with local businesses to create discount arrangements could help both your team’s money go further, and support the local economy through inflation! 

Resurfacing the support that’s available 

We know that most employers rank the engagement they get with financial benefits as low – our latest research showed 91% think it’s average or poor. 

So now would be a great time to make sure existing financial perks (like a discounts platform) or opportunities for salary sacrifice benefits (like cycle to work schemes) are being resurfaced to help employees make the most of the support available. 

Facilitate money conversations 

Breaking down the taboo of talking about money is one of the most impactful ways you can support your people. Our research has found that 9 out of 10 people want someone to talk to about money, and talking about it is the number one thing that helps people feel more confident in their finances. 

You don’t need to have a detailed financial education programme to be able to support your employees. At the moment, consistency and normalising financial worries are the most important elements. 

Money is an emotional issue that’s already hard for people to talk about. So it’s better to focus on providing support that is simple and accessible instead of trying to have all the answers/solve every challenge” says Matt Downs, employer partnerships. 

Tailor your support to different demographics 

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to money worries. So the more employers can do to support different groups within their workforce, the better.

Increasing costs will be impacting people very differently. For example, consider those earlier in their careers. Some may have started work during Covid and built spending or saving habits in a time of lockdown that feel hard to adjust. Or they may be living at home, which on one hand may mean they’re inoculated from some rising costs, but the prospect of moving out may be on hold. 

Equally, be aware that the higher earners in your workforce will also be feeling the pinch. They may have more fixed outgoings and less ability to quickly adjust spending, and face bigger lifestyle adjustments as a result. 

Invest in 1:1 financial guidance

Employers recently told us that financial coaching and financial education are the number 1 and 2 financial benefits they want to offer employees. 

For employers who are able to invest directly in individual support, funding 1:1 financial coaching for all their employees is a great way to provide support here-and-now, as well helping teams build longer term financial resilience. 

For example, Phoenix group has been providing financial coaching for their employees as a salary sacrifice benefit since 2021. But as part of their response to supporting employees through the cost of living crisis, they will now be fully funding financial coaching for all of their 7500+ employees.

The New Financial Wellbeing Roadmap

Helping you reach a new and powerful phase of financial wellbeing!

Our new research and roadmap offers insights and advice to help you progress towards financial benefits which are:

  • More personalised
  • More measurable
  • More impactful

Moneysupermarket Group has partnered with us since 2019 to give all their employees their own financial coach.

  • They wanted a solution that would really engage people and help them plan for both short and long-term financial goals.
  • 35% of Moneysupermarket Group employees have used the financial coaching service.
  • Those who have used the full service have improved their household wealth by £3k on average within the first 12 months.

What’s great about Octopus MoneyCoach is that it helps make personal finance simple and jargon-free, meaning it’s as easy as possible for our employees to engage – which is something we really wanted

The Challenge

In 2019 Moneysupermarket Group, the FTSE 250 registered company operating leading UK price comparison sites for Insurance, Money, Home Services and other products, introduced financial coaching for its 750 employees, to proactively support their financial wellbeing. They wanted a solution that would really engage people and help them plan for all their goals, short-term (saving for holidays), and long-term (like retirement).

Tracey Quiggin, Head of Reward at Moneysupermarket Group said: “From a wellbeing perspective we want to help our employees be resilient in all aspects of their lives. Financial resilience is an integral part of that – because we believe it has a direct correlation to mental health and overall wellbeing. 

What’s great about Octopus MoneyCoach is that it helps make personal finance simple and jargon-free, meaning it’s as easy as possible for our employees to engage – which is something we really wanted.”

How we’ve helped

Octopus MoneyCoach offers all Moneysupermarket Group employees a free session with a financial coach and then the opportunity to take advantage of the full year’s 1-to-1 coaching service and powerful planning technology via salary sacrifice if it’s right for them. During that year the coach uses a proprietary planning tool to visualise how employees’ money is forecast to grow and whether staff are on track with their financial goals. The coach will then help employees create a tailored action plan to optimise spending, savings, investments, pensions, mortgages and life insurance arrangements. 

Tracey says, “Our brand goes a long way towards helping people make the most of their money, so we wanted to reflect that and focus our energy in helping our colleagues to do the right things too.  Especially in more complex areas such as pensions, protection and investments. Giving our teams access to a financial coach – a real, human expert – really helps them take action to improve their financial health.  Offering a free session with a ‘try before you buy’ approach to every employee is a real plus”.

I started my journey this year with my financial coach. It’s early days but I can already see how I can make small changes that will make a big impact!  I particularly like the digital planning tool as it’s now so much easier to track my income and potential investments.

“Giving our teams access to a financial coach -a real, human expert – really helps them take action to improve their financial health.”

The impact for Moneysupermarket Group

  • 267 employees have booked their first coaching session.
  • On average, household wealth has improved by £3k within the first 12 months and is projected to improve by £50k over 10 years.
  • Moneysupermarket Group employees have rated their financial coaching experience 4.8/5.

Tracey says, “We want all our benefits and wellbeing efforts to reflect our overall purpose and brand, which is ‘helping households save money’. Octopus MoneyCoach encapsulates that ethos and allows us to make sure our employees are able to save money in ways that are most relevant to them.

About Moneysupermarket Group

Moneysupermarket.com Group PLC is an established member of the FTSE 250 index. The Group operates leading UK price comparison sites for Insurance, Money, Home Services and other products. Our purpose is to help households save money on bills by giving them access to free online tools that enable them to switch and buy products.

We operate a marketplace business model, matching consumers to providers in an efficient way for both sides. Consumers can come to a single site, answer a simple questions set and let us do the work of providing them with a wide choice of deals to compare and switch to. For providers, it is a cost-efficient and flexible way to access millions of customers. With the recent acquisition of Quidco, the Group now helps users earn cashback on online spending whilst also providing an attractive customer acquisition channel to merchants.

In 2021, we helped our users to save an estimated £1.6bn on their household bills.

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, and this year’s theme is combating loneliness. The Mental Health Awareness Foundation says: “Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health and we need to find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness. We can all play a part in this.” 

Breaking the taboo of talking about money is one way to create a supportive community around financial health and make sure no-one feels alone, or isolated with their money worries. Employees who don’t have someone knowledgeable to speak to are nearly 20% more likely to feel stressed about their personal finances.

Here’s four ways employers can create opportunities for people to engage on money topics and create a sense of community and connection around financial health.

Visible leadership

Money worries are universal and can affect anyone, regardless of how much, or how little, they earn. In fact, 95% of people worry about money. Giving a name to “financial wellbeing” and putting the topic on the table alongside other big issues like physical health and mental health helps to normalise it and shows your employees that you view it as a priority.

It’s also incredibly powerful when senior leaders share their own personal money stories. This helps to show that anyone, at any level, can benefit from talking about it more. It also helps to dispel any misconceptions that sharing your money concerns could have a negative impact on your career.

Normalise money conversations

Nine in 10 people find it hard to talk about money (according to MAPS in 2021). And our research has found that 41% of employees don’t think their employer provides support for financial wellbeing. 

So despite efforts being made, there is still a disconnect in terms of the impact felt by employees. Invest time in bringing your team managers into the conversation and equipping them with the skills and tools to speak to their teams about money and humanise the experience of seeking financial information.

The concept of a mental health ambassador or “first-aider” is becoming more and more common. Expanding this remit to include ambassadors for financial wellbeing also helps to put a human face to money conversations.

Connect with lifestage moments

Talking about money in the context of life-stage moments gives people something to relate to and reduces the sense that ‘it’s not for me’. Shah Abbasi, one of our head coaches says: “Many employees don’t understand how valuable some of the benefits they get are, until they see them in the context of their dreams for the future”. 

One way employers can get closer to this is to prepare “milestone guides” on financial wellbeing that managers can share with new parents, new homeowners, or other groups who share financial concerns or goals to inspire them to discuss their financial plans.

Employers could also look to leverage the networks that already exist – we’ve seen great success with promoting financial coaching through existing communities that support inclusivity in the workplace. “A global organisation we work with chose to create specific financial coaching briefings for the leads of all their D&I networks as part of our launch – it was a fantastic way to create engagement for our new service within networks people were already familiar with, and trust” says Neasa McNulty, Employer Partnerships.

Give your team someone to talk to 1:1

Our research shows that having someone to talk to was the number one thing that helped employees feel good about their financial future. Eighty-nine per cent of employees want help with their finances, and almost 60% want this to be in a coaching style: supportive and validating.

Even if employers create great visibility, and communities of interest around financial wellbeing, the pervasiveness of money taboos may mean some people can still feel alone with their worries. Comparing your situation to others without the full context (trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’) can actually end up being more damaging for some people. 

Access to 1:1 coaching means employees have a human, non-judgemental starting point to open up about challenges, worries or concerns.

This kind of support extends to wider issues affecting mental health, beyond just finances. At Octopus MoneyCoach HQ we partner with fifty50, who provide 1:1 confidential coaching to help employees help build resilience and take a proactive and preventative approach to our mental health. 

Verity Symcox, Director of Coaching & Wellbeing at fifty50 says: “when coaching people within the workplace, we find that feeling lonely and being alone are often confused. Covid created physical isolation, social distancing and working from home mandates which left many people feeling lonely. However, as a global society, we have never been more digitally connected. Coaching can help employees distinguish between feeling lonely and being alone and identify proactive ways to help improve social interactions and boost wellbeing.”

Reach more people with more impact!

It’s that time of year again. For many workplaces, your annual benefits window is coming up. Are you ready to grab people’s attention? And show you support them and their financial wellbeing? 

With money worries still one of the biggest causes of poor mental health, employers can’t afford to ignore it’s impact on productivity or people’s drive to look for new jobs. 

Helping people engage and take full advantage of your financial wellbeing initiatives is a great place to start! 

Here are our top tips to help you reach more people, more of the time – and with more impact.

1. Be ‘always on’ for money conversations

Whether you have an annual benefits window or more flexibility, it’s important to keep up the communication and activities year round. “Persistence is key,” said Michaela O’Neill, Head of Reward and HR Analytics at global market research business Ipsos told us in a recent webinar

Offering regular sessions on general topics, or tailored sessions on specific products, all helps make finances a part of everyday working life and a ‘normal’ topic to engage with at work.

2. Make sure it’s accessible to all life stages

People can be sceptical of new financial benefits, so getting the tone of communications right is key – make it understandable, relevant and accessible for all your employees. 

“Sometimes people think financial wellbeing programmes are only for people with lots of money. They think talking about money is only for the rich!” says Shah Abbasi, Head of Coaching, Octopus Money Coach. 

On the other hand, Michaela from Ipsos observes, “We find people think a financial wellbeing programme is only for junior staff – but it’s something you can benefit from throughout your career.” That’s a great message to make sure you get across.

3. Make it recognisable 

Michaela also advocates branding your financial wellbeing programme, to help employees quickly recognise financial wellbeing communications and resources. Ipsos calls their program “SmartSavings” to differentiate it from other HR communications. In workplaces with lots of internal communications going to employees, a brand can help cut through the noise. 

Coupled with consistency and accessibility this can help to build greater trust, and more confidence and comfort being open about money worries. 

4. Avoid one-size-fits-all

Make sure your programme of events and communication about financial wellbeing has variety that will appeal to everyone. The young people who want to understand credit ratings, as well as the ‘sandwich generation’ who might be juggling many demands on their time and money.

Personalising and focusing on key ‘milestone moments’ will really enhance that benefit and make people feel supported. Michaela says, “There’s no one size fits all when it comes to people and money.”

5. Take a coaching-led approach 

People learn differently. And with complex topics like pensions, the jargon can get in the way of understanding. “We’re really never taught any of this stuff,” says Shah. “It’s uncertainty and a lack of confidence that often stops people making the most of their finances.”

Having a coach helps employees translate and connect the technicalities of financial planning to their real life. Coaches are also there for when circumstances change (for the worse or better). Not everyone wants the world to know when they’re thinking of starting a family, for example, but they might want help deciphering how parental leave policies will apply to them.

6. Think about the wider impacts – like EAP use or pension contributions

How do you measure the effect of your efforts in financial wellbeing? Do you measure it? 

“We can see a direct correlation between our pension provider coming in to do a session and an increase in pension contributions,” says Michaela. She also suggests less demand on your Employee Assistance Programme is a sign wellbeing initiatives are working. “And you can learn a lot by asking for feedback of course,” says O’Neill. “We do that regularly. Then again, sometimes no news is good news!”

Financial coaching also helps you measure tangible, financial impact in real time. “We gather anonymised data that shows how many employees are increasing their emergency savings, are more protected by insurance and wills or are feeling better about managing their debt, for example,” explains Shah.

7. Enthusiasm is infectious, so lead from the front

As an employer, your own passion for financial wellbeing initiatives will undoubtedly drive their success. Michaela says, “It’s important to have senior buy-in. Senior leaders have to be part of the process. Ideally management highlight our information for their teams. Having that collaboration really helps.” 

So, get your fellow leaders on board and fire up your financial wellbeing programme – because after all it’s at the heart of all your employee wellbeing: “if people are financially stressed that impacts every other leg of the wellbeing strategy,” explains Michaela.

From the pension gap to the motherhood penalty, there are lots of ways in which gender bias shows up in the world of money.

When our financial coaches work with employees, we gather insights to help their employer better understand the financial health of their workforce. So, we see firsthand how gender plays a role in the way people feel about their money. 

Women typically have 13% less in their pension pots than men – meaning more working years if women want to retire as comfortably as men. We also find that women have up to a quarter less in their savings and investments than men (this is often called the “wealth gap”). 

Globally, just 28% of women feel confident about investing some of their money, and almost half (45%) say investing is too risky, according to a recent study by BNY Mellon Investment Management.

For many households, there can be a financial division of labour that has unintended consequences. Neasa McNulty, employer partnerships at Octopus MoneyCoach, comments: “Often this leads to women taking the lead on day-to-day household expenses, while men are more confident leading on investment decisions and long-term financial planning.”

So, how can employers break the gender bias?

Financial education that’s designed for women

Higher salaries would enable women to accumulate larger pensions. So, reducing the pay gap is an important step towards addressing the pension gap. But it wouldn’t solve it completely. 

Building financial education programmes that acknowledge the differences in investing confidence, and signposting women to resources to help them understand their options and the impact of their decisions, is a good start.

  1. Lead from the front with female speakers and financial experts

Market research giant Ipsos told us recently that they brought a female financial adviser in to lead a financial wellbeing session in a bid to engage more women. According to Michaela O’Reilly, head of reward and HR analytics at Ipsos, it was their most popular session with 160 staff attending.

  1. One-to-one guidance

Coaches and advisers can provide education around the wonders of tax relief and compound interest. But for many women, any kind of financial education could be new and potentially intimidating. One-to-one coaching creates a safe space to ask questions, and helps clients visualise their long-term goals.

At MoneyCoach we want to make sure talking about money is as easy, and accessible as possible. We make sure the experts employees speak to share their life experience – so 60% of our coaches are women.

Rhiannon Davies, head financial coach at Octopus MoneyCoach, comments: “It’s never too early to educate people about financial planning – knowledge is power. As well as getting to grips with the financial products available, understanding your attitude to investing, such as your risk capacity and risk tolerance, is key.”

Neasa also comments: “The way we discuss financial success can be very gendered and this needs to change. Women who aspire to financial success can be seen as greedy; men, on the other hand, may be viewed more positively as ambitious or responsible”. 

Reducing the gender bias with childcare

When it comes to having children, gender bias becomes even more problematic. The burden of maternity leave and taking time off work for childcare generally falls to women and this can result in lost earnings and career progression opportunities. 

But employers can take an active role in tackling gender bias with childcare options. Flexibility and equality in parental leave can minimise the burden on women, as can offering job-sharing, condensed hours, remote working and career breaks. Reducing the stigma of men requesting time off to care for their children is vital. Mandating shared parental leave is a potential solution; this refers to parents taking equitable periods of parental leave for equal pay, and therefore being more equally financially capable of supporting their family.

Shah Abbasi, head of financial coaching at Octopus MoneyCoach, would like to see employers make parental leave “opt-out”. He says: “This was a huge success with pension auto-enrolment. If it’s a decision not to take it, it totally changes your mindset. Because today, so many employees are confronted with feelings of guilt that it will negatively impact their career.”

He adds that financial coaches can be pivotal in addressing the unjust pay and pension gaps. “I really believe financial planning can be one of the most powerful ways of improving equity.” Coaches can help employees plan for how additional costs and reduced income will affect their personal finances. Where clients choose to take a career break, coaches can talk them through how to offset potential pitfalls, such as continuing to pay National Insurance contributions so they don’t miss out on state pension.

Bringing both partners into the conversation

Building a financial plan as a couple can help stop unconscious gender bias within a relationship, and empower a woman to feel more confident and knowledgeable about money matters. This is especially true for couples with children, or who are about to become parents, and those who share a mortgage.

It means tricky issues can be confronted head-on. For example, if a woman is taking unpaid maternity leave, should her partner pay her an income, or contribute to her pension?

Having both parents in the room for financial planning conversations will make sure expectations are set jointly on managing the costs of having children. By using open questions, a coach can help clear up any misunderstandings between a couple – and plug any gaps in knowledge – allowing them to have a frank discussion about their financial future.

Sometimes women will assume their ideal scenario isn’t possible – so they don’t even allow themselves to explore it. Octopus MoneyCoach recently helped a couple save together for shared childcare goals as neither wanted to take a career break. It meant they shared the cost and neither was disproportionately impacted as a result.

Our mission at MoneyCoach is to transform lives by making financial coaching accessible and affordable to all. This commitment to financial inclusion for all means working hard to break down the barriers, taboos and bias associated with talking about money. 

We want to work with employers today, and every day, to #breakthebias for women in the world of money.  

Experian, the UK’s leading credit reporting company has partnered with Octopus MoneyCoach to give every employee their own financial coach

  • Experian know their staff are financially savvy as professionals, but wanted to ensure they had the same expertise for their personal finances. 
  • The highly personalised, holistic coaching and breadth of the financial guidance was what they wanted for their employees. 
  • Experian offered our service through salary sacrifice and have seen a 20% uptake. 

We’ve loved the 1:1 nature of their holistic coaching and breadth of the guidance, covering all aspects of our employees’ full financial situation.”

Gabby Wickes
Wellbeing Lead at Experian

The challenge 

Experian is one of an increasing number of companies joining a new age of employers that have partnered with Octopus MoneyCoach in their mission to transform a million lives through financial coaching. Experian knew their staff are financially savvy as professionals, but wanted to ensure they had the same expertise for their personal finances. 

Gabby Wickes, Wellbeing Lead at Experian immediately connected with the Octopus MoneyCoach ethos. “Experian’s focus is about helping customers become financially literate, enabling them to build a better financial future. It’s important that we do all we can to support our employees in achieving this too. Since the beginning of our partnership with Octopus, we’ve loved the 121 nature of their holistic coaching, and breadth of the guidance, covering all aspects of our employees’ full financial situation.”

How we helped

The launch of Octopus MoneyCoach at Experian was a big success – since launch 673 (20%) of Experian’s 3287 UK employees have booked a call with their coach. Ninety-eight employees have rated the service so far, giving their experience with octopus MoneyCoach 4.8 out of 5 stars. One employee commented, “Sarah’s energy and enthusiasm for coaching, plus her accessible approach to what can be a very fraught subject, really helped put me at ease and even excited me about the possibilities that could be unlocked with a sound financial plan.”

In partnership with Octopus MoneyCoach, each Experian employee is given their own dedicated financial coach who helps them take a holistic look at their financial lives. Everyone in the company is offered one free financial planning session each year, from there they can choose to sign-up to the full service and work with their dedicated coach for a full year to work and use MoneyCoach’s unique forecasting technology to build a full financial plan that helps them work towards their life, and financial, goals.

“The combination of a human coach and – for those who want it – the planning technology, perfectly addresses both the emotional and rational side of financial planning.”

Alexandra Kosylo
Learning Consultant & Talent Analyst at Experian

The impact 

  • 673 employees have booked a call with their coach. 
  • 4.8 / 5 average rating for the service. 
  • Employees improved their financial situation by £9,692 on average.

At Experian, the employees who chose to use the full service through salary sacrifice, improved their financial situation by £9,692 on average. This was through a combination of employee pension contributions increasing by 0.6%, savings increasing by 4.5% and investments increasing by 11%. 

Alexandra Kosylo, Learning Consultant & Talent Analyst at Experian also said, “These are difficult times. We know that everyone’s situation has changed in some way over the past year. With MoneyCoach we feel confident that every employee has access to personalised 121 support and guidance on precisely the right financial actions for them as the process is tailored to each employee’s situation, whether they want to plan for a rainy day, a property, enjoying life, a family, and/or retirement. The combination of a human coach and – for those who want it – the planning technology, perfectly addresses both the emotional and rational side of financial planning. The real magic of MoneyCoach is the peace of mind it gives – for us, and our employees.” 

Experian joins a growing list of employers who have made Octopus MoneyCoach available, either as a salary sacrifice or employer funded benefit, including MoneySuperMarket Group, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Epson, and Great Place to Work.

About Experian

Experian is the world’s leading global information services company. During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services, businesses to make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders to lend more responsibly, and organisations to prevent identity fraud and crime.

We have 20,000 people operating across 44 countries and every day we’re investing in new technologies, talented people, and innovation to help all our clients maximise every opportunity. We are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. Learn more at www.experianplc.com or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.