Holistic employee wellbeing: How to support financial wellbeing through peer-to-peer money guidance

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Financial First Aiders pilot

As an employer, it may come as no surprise that financial concerns impact your employees’ mental and physical health, and can even affect work performance. This may have become even more evident in your team in the Covid-19 pandemic, or during life events like maternity leave, bereavement or divorce.

Research estimates that money worries cost the UK economy £120bn and 17.5 million lost hours of work. (Neyber)

Employers can play a vital role in supporting their employees with financial matters, with surveys suggesting that over half of employees (57%) want financial advice in the workplace, and over one-third (33%) would pay for an in-house financial advisor provided by their employer. (FCA)

Providing access to free and impartial financial guidance is one way employers can support employees’ financial wellbeing. Despite easily accessible guidance online, people don’t often know where to look and who to trust.

To this end, we developed the Financial First Aider (FFA) programme to make this guidance more accessible to people in the workplace. This is a peer-to-peer money guidance service, where employees are trained to discuss and support their colleagues confidentially with financial matters.

We tested the implementation of the FFA programme in a pilot study with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and the Yorkshire Building Society (YBS). Twenty YBS employees were specially trained to offer impartial financial guidance to their colleagues and the service was advertised to all YBS colleagues.

Key findings

The pilot identified several encouraging elements such as the positive impact it has had on the FFAs themselves.

“I think money, to me, has always been quite an interesting topic, I know a lot of my friends that have gone through issues with money because they’ve just not managed it well, so I was really interested in that side of things.”

Financial First Aider, Yorkshire Building Society

Staff also felt that the availability of the service conveyed the message that YBS genuinely cared about their staff’s financial wellbeing.

“I think they’re a really, really great employer. I think over the past year, they’ve really demonstrated that […] through just the way they’ve communicated with us and sharing sources of information to do with mental wellbeing as well as financial wellbeing.”

Yorkshire Building Society Colleague

However, with only a limited number of sessions being delivered in the first few months of the intervention, there is potential for many more people to benefit from the service.

The pilot also identified ways to overcome some of the challenges in the programme, particularly when it comes to service uptake.

How to use this research

The FFA service is the first peer-to-peer financial guidance service to be applied and tested in the workplace. We hope that the findings will be of particular use to employers who are looking to implement financial wellbeing programmes for their people.

This pilot was a collaboration between YBS and the Financial Capability Lab, a programme funded and overseen by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) and implemented by the BIT. The lab is a multi-year programme to develop and test innovative ideas to improve financial wellbeing and demonstrate paths to scale.