Money is still a very taboo subject in the workplace, and it can be difficult for some employees to talk about money with their managers. Despite being an important issue, especially in times of inflation, almost three-quarters of the workers (73%) have never spoken to their employer or line manager about their financial wellbeing.
This is according to the Working Lives Report 2022: The Big Squeeze by Aviva, a UK occupational pension provider.
More surprisingly, the report reveals that younger employees are more willing to talk to their boss about their financial concerns, particularly 25-34-year-olds, followed closely by 18-24-year-olds. Unexpectedly, the least comfortable are senior professionals aged 45-54.
Emma Douglas, director of workplace savings and pensions at Aviva, said: ‘Talking to your employer about money seems to be one of the last taboos in the workplace. Younger workers are breaking down the stigma associated with talking about the ‘m’ word to the boss, but it’s important that all generations of workers feel they can talk about their financial wellbeing with their employer.”
She continued: “Retirement savings is an area where employers can offer significant support. Pensions are designed to be a long-term investment, and decisions made today will have an impact throughout a person’s retirement.”
Lack of financial education
But when it comes to financial strategies, the report shows that employees are most likely to trust their research (26%) to guide them through retirement and long-term savings. They are followed by their pension provider (19%), then their employer, human resources (HR) or line manager (15%).
The survey highlighted a lack of financial knowledge among employees. Of those eligible to join an employer-provided occupational pension scheme, almost one in five (17%) do not know how much of their salary is spent on retirement.
They also face financial fears, and more than a third (34%) think their occupational pension will not be enough. Only a small proportion of employees (19%) believe they can live comfortably in retirement on their occupational pension.
To help people save for retirement, with automatic enrolment following in 2012, all employers must offer a pension to employees who meet the criteria. The minimum contribution for automatic enrolment, including employee and employer contributions and tax relief, is 8%. However, some employers offer higher matching contributions.
To know what companies are offering, it is important that the workforce understand the benefits and advantages of their occupational pension.
Douglas added: “It’s a shame that so many people with occupational pensions who are worried they won’t be able to retire comfortably have never spoken to their managers about their concerns.
“These are exceptionally difficult times for people, and the extent of financial hardship will be unique for everyone. It is more important than ever that employers encourage their employees to talk to them about their money worries, and that employees take advantage of any financial education or guidance their employer is able to offer.”
Here are some recommendations to open a money conversation in the workplace:
If you are an employee:
- Open up: schedule a confidential half-hour meeting with your manager. Talking about your financial concerns is the first step to getting support. Tell them that you are looking for financial education and wellness advice.
- Education: find out if your company offers financial education seminars. Take advantage of free financial education and wellness programmes.
If you are an employer:
- Start at the beginning: check if your induction process covers occupational pensions for new starters.
- Embrace technology: pension providers often have online applications and tools that show the potential effect of increased or decreased payments.
- Offer financial education: holding financial education seminars is a good way to get people thinking about their future.
- Tell them, then tell them again: keep employees aware of the benefits of their workplace plan by regularly reminding them of the facts.
Beyond this, some businesses may offer external financial education through a specialist provider or an employee assistance programme (EAP). A number of 24/7 helplines and online resources can provide information on financial matters.
There is also plenty of additional help available as the financial advice community helps thousands of people every year. There is free help from the government in the form of the Pension Tracing Service, Money and Pension Service, MoneyHelper and Pension Wise. Aviva’s own Mid-Life MOT app also provides 45+-year-olds with a free online check-up of work, wealth, and wellbeing.