Employee Benefits Reset 2020: As one of the largest employers in Europe, with 1.5 million employees across multiple organisations, the NHS recognises the importance of making sure that financial wellbeing is a key component of the reward strategy.
Speaking as part of Employee Benefits Reset 2020 online conference series, Cat Clark, programme manager, reward, at NHS Employers, explained that for NHS organisations, financial wellbeing means being able to find the right balance between in-work affordability and in-retirement adequacy, encompassing effective budgeting, managing debt, planning for the future, saving for a pension, and having the knowledge to make informed financial decisions.
“Financial health and wellbeing, and seeking to support staff with this, is critically important to ensure we can recruit, retain and motivate our staff at work,” Clark said.
Clark said that NHS Employers recognise that poor financial wellbeing is likely to affect mental health in negative ways, something that is important for staff and employers to understand equally.
NHS organisations take a multi-faceted strategic approach to financial wellbeing; this includes a short guide for employers that details how the approach is aligned to organisational objectives.
The guide details a four-pronged approach: establish strong foundations first; then signposting employees of where to seek expertise; thirdly, education as a proactive and preventative step to improving employees’ financial wellbeing; and then connecting staff with services that can provide more extensive support.
Joining Clark in the conference session, Kylie Murrell, staff wellbeing lead at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, explained how her organisation has implemented a financial wellbeing strategy that is closely aligned with its corporate, social and responsibility (CSR) aims.
Murrell said: “In terms of financial wellbeing, we are really concerned with the wider determinants of health; these are the factors which influence and affect peoples’ ability to make healthy lifestyle choices and sustain them, and they are not straightforward.
“Our offer to staff seeks to address some of the causes by facilitating access to advice and support for social as well as emotional and physical issues.”
With over 10,000 employees, the trust knew that a one-size-fits-all approach would not be effective.
It partnered with Northumberland Community Bank, in keeping with the trust’s approach to working with and supporting local organisations, to provide a savings and loan scheme for staff through salary deduction.
The scheme launched in July 2019 with an article in the staff magazine, information sent to the trust’s health advocate network, bulletins and social media posts.
In 2019, the trust organised a reward for employees as a thank you for their hard work; one option was to have money deposited into a personal account with the bank.
The trust also ran a carers event which the bank attended to promote the scheme. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the trust has continued to promote the scheme to employees with regular messages.
There are currently 500 members of staff in the scheme.