This may not be obvious to most, but employee financial wellness in the workplace, specifically issues such as bad debt or lack of financial literacy is a huge reality for most organizations. On whole it affects over 25% of the total global workforce.
In a recent study over 30% of Canadians stated they are on the brink of bankruptcy. The report also goes on to state that younger Canadians are much closer to the bankruptcy threshold, with 49% of those aged 18-34 on the same brink.
A perhaps even larger accompanying issue to this financial reality is the fact that the majority of this group also feel they have no where to turn for help. In the workplace specifically, employees are extremely hesitant to turn to their employer for help, primarily as a result of the negative perceptions and stigmatic stereotypes around the issue.
This stigmatic relationship really reflects a lack of proper response both internally on the part of the employee as well externally with the employer. The external stigma involves negative judgements, opinions, comments and assumptions that are "let to lie" by the employer. The internal stigma with the employee is internalizing these negative messages and failing to take any action at all to alter their course.
Sadly, both of these stigmas are false and unnecessary. Helping employees improve their financial wellness and literacy at work is beneficial to all involved. The employee, the employee's family, the company and society at large all benefit, while asking for help will only makes the situation improve and resolve at a faster rate.
Moving this issue out of stigma should be and can be accomplished by employers. The first step is to take on the responsibility and raise awareness to the employees that financial issues, like any other conditions are treatable and fixable and that support for any in need is willingly available.
There are many partnerships out there to be had that provide targeted programs for employees that educate and promote supportive environments to take action. Providing financial wellness benefits programs that address financial literacy and even provide low interest rate, salary backed loans and savings spreads the message that financial wellness issues are treatable situations for which early-intervention, attention and education really work.
Taking an evidence-based approach to address the stigma allows employees who feel stigmatized to quickly realize that these situations exist for many others, they are not alone, they can ask for help without fear of judgement and that there is light at the end of the tunnel for all who do.