The cultural shift in employer attitudes towards employees
Used to be, in the ‘bad old days,’ that employers controlled their employees. Workers lived in company housing, shopped in the company store, and their children attended the company school – where they were trained to work for the company at a young age.
The cycle created social and labor abuses. Many workers suffered, and many employers got rich.
But eventually, times changed, and the culture shifted the opposite way. Employers took a “hands off” approach with their employees – especially their financial issues. Unions became increasingly powerful and larger. The power and control started to revert away from the employer and back to the worker.
Suck it up, Buttercup – you’re on your own
If an employee had a financial challenge, the typical employer wasn’t very helpful. They didn’t feel responsible for employee challenges that weren’t work-related, so it fell to the employee to figure it out.
Problem was, the employee all too often figured it out on work time. Potentially productive time was lost for the employer. The employee was stressed out and less productive. It was lose-lose all round.
The rise of the culturally conscious employer
Writing The New Productivity Engine, author and financial wellness advocate, David Kilby, says “From my perspective, there is a middle ground that makes sense. Employers need to provide a workplace environment that allows employees to be productive and successful.” He calls employers who follow this course ‘culturally conscious.’
Culturally conscious employers believe that the corporate culture can positively impact performance. They believe that when employees are happy, satisfied, engaged and present, then positive performance follows.
Creating the win-win scenario for everyone
In his book, Kilby looks at the situation from both sides.
You don’t want to waste your time trying to solve the financial problems of your employees. They, in turn, don’t want the embarrassment of having to ask you for help. What we want to do is create the win-win for everyone.
That win-win scenario, Kilby contends, includes a robust financial wellness program, properly launched, with motivation for employees, and a short-term loan solution that employees can access anonymously and easily.
Life’s bad situations usually require immediate cash
There are people who really enjoy their job and can’t wait to get to work every day. Then there are those who work because they have families to support, bills to pay and goals that require money. The latter probably includes most people.
For most employees, life goes on just fine until something bad happens. Unfortunately, the solution for many of life’s bad situations usually requires immediate cash.
Most people don’t have $1,000 available for an emergency
Research shows that approximately 75 percent of working Americans do not have $1,000 available for an emergency like a car repair, medical issue or even paying the rent or mortgage. Given such a situation, people have few recourses – tap a friend or relative, ask their church or other organization, or get a payday loan.
Any of these solutions usually require that the employee take productive time from work. The employer loses productivity. The employee gains stress. Everybody loses.
The role of the culturally conscious employer
Recognizing the fact that employees will have financial problems that will be solved on company time, the role of the culturally conscious employer is to provide, as part of the employee benefits package, a solution that works for everyone.
I’m talking about a financial wellness program that helps ease the common stresses of daily life, so that the employee can increase the time and intensity of the focus on their work. Your productivity.
He adds, “For the employee, that means getting up in the morning and recognizing that, despite all the daily work and life challenges, they’re going to work for an employer that cares for them on a personal level.”
Financial wellness offers additional benefits for everyone
The New Productivity Engine goes on to explain how financial wellness offers additional benefits for everyone. Employees benefit from reduced stress, anxiety and peripheral illnesses caused by stress.
Culturally conscious employers benefit from better employee retention, increased loyalty and decreased calls on 401(k) funds or requests for wage advances. Of course, the biggest benefit for everyone is increased productivity. As Kilby often says in his book, “Financial wellness is a win-win for everyone.”