As businesses plan for an uncertain 2019, attracting and retaining staff is firmly at the top of employers’ list of priorities. Forty-six percent of the 500 employers that participated in Neyber’s DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2018 research said that finding and keeping talent is their biggest HR challenge for the year ahead.

It’s also causing concern at board level. According to Neyber’s research, only Brexit (86%), and business finances (74%) are greater sources of worry than staff retention (55%).

Financial wellbeing could be making the challenge of retaining staff even greater. Seventy-eight percent of businesses said that they believe money worries are directly affecting their ability to keep employees. That rises to 91% of companies with between 1,001 and 2,000 staff.

It’s also affecting the quality of existing employees’ work. Eight out of ten businesses said they are concerned that staff are worrying about money during working hours, and the same number fear that poor financial wellbeing is affecting engagement. Forty percent of employers said that their HR department has had to handle staff concerns about pay and benefits over the last year.

However, the extent to which workplaces look after their employees’ financial wellbeing varies considerably. Less than a third of employers (30%) say that they have a well-developed strategy that includes personal finances, retirement planning and employee benefits. And 31% of employers said that employees’ financial heath wasn’t something that their organisation had responsibility for.

The variable levels of support on offer from employers is affecting employees. Of the 10,000 workers surveyed by Neyber for The DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2018, only 32% said that they believe their employer cares about their financial wellbeing. Among older workers, the results are even more worrying, with only 25% of those aged between 45 and 64 saying their employer cares about their financial wellbeing. In comparison, 45% of that age group thinks their workplace cares about their physical health, and 46% believe employers care about their career development.

Neyber’s research makes it clear that employees do value the financial benefits they are offered at work. Sixty-nine percent value their pension more than any other benefit, followed by 65% who say that flexible working is a highly-prized benefit. Women rate flexible working slightly more highly than pensions (70%, compared to 69% for pensions).

An attractive benefits package and positive working culture are two of the core ingredients required for a good place to work. Financial wellbeing has a huge role to play in both. Pensions, savings products, affordable loans, financial education and other benefits are the building blocks. But offering these in isolation won’t deliver a financially well workforce. Creating a culture around them where employees feel able to get support with financial difficulties and take control of their money is also vital.

The year ahead will be characterised by great uncertainty, so building the right business culture could be the difference between retaining the staff you need to thrive and struggling to recruit skills for future development. The findings from Neyber’s research show that looking after staff’s financial wellbeing has a fundamental part to play in becoming a workplace of choice.