Webinars address money stress at work

Employers providing financial education for their staff as they work from home are addressing the high rate of employees whose financial stress spills over into the workplace.

A series of free webinars produced by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) have been picked up by employers as diverse as the Defence Force, IT companies, the Hastings District Council and an event company. Banks, Victoria University, the Primary ITO and the Police Credit Union were among others.

Called Navigating COVID-19, the CFFC’s Sorted at Work team adapted material from its Sorted website and face-to-face seminars to meet the financial education needs of employees during the pandemic. The first webinar released in mid-April during Level 4 covered seven steps people could take to shore up their finances at the start of the crisis; the second webinar released on June 2 encourages employees to reflect on what’s important in their lives following lockdown, and how to redesign their lifestyle for the better financially.

CFFC’s Director of Learning, Nick Thomson, said it was gratifying to see employers including free financial education in wellbeing programmes for their employees during an uncertain time. A CFFC survey of 2500 employees done late last year showed 42% found personal financial problems to be a distraction at work, with one third spending three hours or more each week thinking about or dealing with money issues.

“Those numbers would have only increased during COVID-19,” says Thomson.

CFFC research on the impact of COVID-19 on New Zealanders’ financial wellbeing taken during Level 4 showed 34% of households were in difficulty and 40% were at risk of tipping into hardship.

“Of employees who completed our first webinar during Levels 4 and 3, 89% said it gave them the tools and resources to feel more hopeful,” says Thomson.

Other comments included feeling empowered to take control of their finances, knowing where to go for help, feeling confident to sort a crisis plan and set up a savings safety net, and finding the webinar timely, succinct and practical.

Fiona Gurevin, Financial and Commercial Operations Manager at medical supply business Canterbury Scientific, organised for six of her staff to participate in the first webinar.

“It was excellent. We were so pleased CFFC could help us help our team, and the whole process was thoughtful, caring and professional,” says Gurevin.

Thomson said the Sorted at Work team was now looking at how to integrate free webinars into its financial education programme in the future.

“New Zealanders will continue to feel anxious about their finances for some time, but after working from home feel more comfortable with digital communication. We’ll use the advantages of remote learning to help people get on top of their finances, so they are less stressed and don’t have to take money issues with them to work.”