Can you remember how you spent your first pay check?
Being paid for the first time is one of life’s many milestones and the beginning of a lifelong relationship with earning, saving and spending money.
Getting that relationship right from the start is the basis for good financial wellbeing, so employers have a unique opportunity to help young employees when they first join the workforce.
Here are ten ways that employers can help support employees’ financial wellbeing right from the start:
Build a budgeting habit
Don’t let employees fall into the trap of thinking that budgeting only matters when money is tight. Good budgeting means that employees have a plan that will help them understand how much money they have day-to-day, to spend within their means, and save (no matter how little).
That puts an individual in control – and feeling in control of money is at the root of all financial wellbeing.
Offer access to appropriate financial products
Younger workers haven’t had the opportunity to build up a credit score, so it can be difficult to get approval for certain types of financial products.
Offering access to these the workplace means employees are not on their own when it comes to finding appropriate ways of saving and borrowing and that could also mean they have access to better forms of finance, should they need to borrow money.
Provide financial education
Most young workers won’t have had any financial education at school. They may have learnt money habits and attitudes from their parents and other family members, or from their peers.
For some, that will be an inspiring first introduction to financial matters – but others may need to find ways to break away from repetitive patterns of debt and poor financial wellbeing.
Plus, the future for young employees today will be very different from that of their parents, and they’ll need support to think about their short, medium and long term financial goals in a changed world.
Support saving for the long term
Pensions auto-enrolment means that for many workers, their first pay check is also the point at which they start saving for retirement. The longer employees save for, the more likely they are to build up a credible retirement pot by the time they reach their 50s and beyond.
Even at the current minimum contribution rate of 8%, someone who saves all through their working life could build up a credible ‘pot’ by the time they leave the workforce. But faced with more immediate aspirations and financial demands, it can be tempting for young employees to opt out.
Make sure they don’t miss out on the ‘free money’ in terms of employer contributions and tax relief.
…and help with today’s priorities
First-time workers will also have short and medium term aspirations, such as saving for a house purchase (or even to be able to rent on their own) and paying off student debt.
There are plenty of ways employers can help – from loans to cover rent deposits, to generic guidance or financial advice that can help employees prioritise and work towards their financial goals.
Build a safety net
Having savings to fall back on for unexpected expenses or shortfalls in earnings is a vital part of feeling in control of finances.
As younger employees become more independent, moving out of the family home and renting or buying independently, the need for a safety net becomes much more important. Even a small amount of money put away regularly will soon add up.
Saving money before you have the opportunity to spend it is the best way of building up a safety net and getting into good habits. Salary exchange for pensions is just one way to do that, as is consolidating any debts and automating repayments.
Consider offering a LISA
The Lifetime Savings ISA can be a great savings mechanism for younger workers saving for a mortgage, or as an extra form of retirement savings. It’s open to anyone under the age of 40 and could deliver as much as £1,000 a year as a tax-free bonus.
Used in the right way, technology has huge opportunities to help employees of all ages with their money management. And that will only increase in coming years – services such as Osper and GoHenry mean that many children now manage money digitally from the very start.
There are excellent tools to support employees in understanding how they spend their money, and also to help them save, for example by rounding up spare change from purchases and putting it into a savings account.
Saving, debt management and good budgeting habits are all crucial to good financial wellbeing. But there may be other ways that employers can help younger workers achieve their personal goals without being held back by money. For example, the coffee giant Starbucks announced recently that it will fund online tuition fees for UK staff who want to study for a degree.