Linking share plans to overall financial wellbeing

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With all that’s happening in the world, people are increasingly concerned about their financial wellbeing. Your share plan communications can help ease some of these worries.

Rising inflation. The pandemic. Brexit. It’s safe to say that in 2022, we’re all facing issues likely to make a dent in our bank accounts – and impact our financial wellbeing. For this reason, more and more organisations are supporting their people, offering financial information and education.

But how do your all-employee share plans fit into all of this? With everything else going on around us, it may feel like now just isn’t the time to be promoting enrolment – after all, how likely are employees to engage with what they might see as yet another outgoing? But if you consider share plan communications as part of your overall financial wellbeing strategy, then you’ve every opportunity to encourage people to see your share plan in a different light.

The cornerstone of any well-planned financial wellbeing strategy is education. And employees are crying out for it. In a 2020 study by Aegon, 72% said their employer didn’t offer any, and 70% said they wanted it. Given this research was conducted pre-pandemic, that second figure can only have risen.

Whether it’s something you’ve already thought about or not, here are some examples of how you can tie this desire for education into your share plan communications and, ultimately, increase engagement.

Help employees visualise the long-term benefits

The past two years have felt rather gloomy – and not just on the economic front. People have had to put their entire lives on hold, and we’re all hungry for things to look forward to. Share plans can help with that, but your people might not automatically make the link between becoming a shareholder and a positive future. But position your communications in the right way, and you can show them that share plans can be a great way to both share in your company’s success and work toward their own personal aspirations.

When we talk about share plans, it can be all too easy to focus on the figures and the potential, shorter term gains to be had via the share price. But if you educate employees on some of the longer-term benefits, you open their eyes to possibilities they may not even have thought about.

For instance, not everyone may understand that share plans can be a flexible way to receive extra income via dividends. And that actually, they might stand to make more in this way than they would interest on a standard savings account. Say – for example – you turn your dividend ‘pence per share’ amounts into an annual percentage that shows your dividends offer a 3% return. Compare that to the average rate of interest on a savings account in 2021 of 0.35% and you’re instantly helping your colleagues make a positive comparison and see the value in investing.

Paint these pictures for them and you increase their financial knowledge, giving them the confidence to make informed decisions. And when people feel informed they feel empowered, which has a positive effect on their overall wellbeing, too.

Open up wider conversations about financial health

Conversations about mental health have really opened up in the past two years. In the same way, the subject of financial health is also becoming less taboo. People are becoming much more open to discussing their financial concerns and any barriers they may feel they face when it comes to investing in new benefits on offer.

How might that affect your share plan communications? Do you invite your people to talk through their decision-making process? Could you host webinars or drop-in sessions? Although you need to be careful not to give out unsolicited financial advice, you’re not in danger of doing so if, for example, someone opens up and suggests the reason they’re not participating is due to lack of flexibility, and you highlight the ways share plans can offer it.

Conversations like these could support employees with their overall financial health, with share plans offered as one of several ways they might look to increase their financial resilience. Employees who are already share plan participants could talk about their positive experiences in these sessions too – people always respond best to others telling their stories, rather than, for example, reams of written information telling them about potential benefits they may struggle to relate to.

Challenge the process

While now may feel like a difficult time to engage employees around share plan participation, it’s also an opportunity to challenge the process and discover new ways to encourage involvement. The financial landscape has shifted so much recently that what’s worked before may simply no longer cut it. But by being sensitive to the current climate, and offering financial wellbeing support as part of your share plan communication, you can still spark interest, while also empowering individuals to make informed decisions.

And that’s where we can help! As share plan and creative experts, we can help you position your share plan communications in a way that really speaks to your people’s needs, and help you launch your financial education, in what are challenging times for many. We’re a friendly bunch, so come and chat to us – we can talk through current challenges and see how we can help.

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