The Counsellor: Caring for employee finances
Vivek Paranjpe, Consultant & Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries answers professional and ethical dilemmas faced by our readers at their workplace.
I love your section as there is always a lot to learn from the pertinent questions that our colleagues ask. I really appreciate you taking time to run this space. Here is my question: We have recently been included in the Great Place to Work list and we are proud of all our initiatives like taking care of our employees’ career aspirations, learning and growth, health and fitness, work-life balance, etc. We think the next step will also be to support our employees in managing their finances, so our company can ensure that they get the best deals and do not have to waste time in paper work for loans, insurancse, etc. From your experience, what are the best practices in caring for employee wealth? How can we support them in making better financial decisions in life?
It is always an excellent idea to support your employees wherever you can, however, just ensure you don’t go overboard. Having achieved a lot, you want to now support your employees in managing their personal finances. While this is a good idea, I am uncomfortable with the words “support the employees” in this arena. I would suggest that you should try not to be paternalistic. Providing education, sharing knowledge and making the resources available is a right role to play, but avoid advisory service. Don’t get involved in the savings and investments that your employees make. As a corporate house, you don’t want to get mixed up with the decisions that employees make in respect to their personal wealth.
There are several ways in which you can help. Multiple workshops, coffee talks, knowledge sharing sessions, etc. can be conducted by various financial institutions and professionals to improve the financial savvy of your people along with sharing of information on the investment avenues. You may also consider allowing financial institutions, insurance professionals, stock brokers, tax experts, etc. to periodically do their road shows at your campus. Just provide space to them to set up information desks and kiosks, wherein your employees can walk in and avail their services. Avoid prescribing anything; let your employees use their free will to choose from multiple options that exist.
Consider segmenting your workforce and work on the age specific needs. Your younger workforce may be in need of loans to acquire assets and therefore you may consider asking financing companies to showcase their products and services. You may consider regular seminars for older people in financial planning for post retirement period. Several products and services like medical insurance schemes, life insurance programs, discounted vehicle purchase programs offered by certain car dealers and road shows by even some of the retailers can become a permanent fixture of an employee service corner in your campus.
To sum up: There is no one way to achieve what you have in mind. You just need to create space and provide some time; many institutions and professionals will be interested in building awareness and promoting their business at your campus. As management, your focus should be on education and making the resources available without taking the role of being a promoter of any one ideology or investment. You don’t want to be accountable for the returns that an employee gets.
You can post your questions to Vivek by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org