How to support employee wellbeing during early parenthood

How to support employee wellbeing during early parenthood

 

How to support employee wellbeing during early parenthood

Becoming a parent brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions: happy, amazed, anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted… The list goes on.

On top of other things, it’s a journey that severely impacts a new parent’s worklife. 

Employees may not be financially prepared for what’s to come, and so will likely bring financial stress into the workplace. They may also experience feelings of loneliness which come from the physical and social demands of looking after a young child.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways companies can help their employees during this time. Ways that can improve the lives of new parents, while also increasing company engagement, productivity, and employee retention.

This is crucial because failing to understand and assist new parents, particularly mothers, exacerbates organisational issues such as the gender pay gap, the pension funding gap, and a lack of women in senior roles.

To explore how companies can support the wellbeing of employees in early parenthood, and why they should, we spoke to Sarah Mortimer and Chelsea Dennison. There are few better people to speak to on this topic, and here’s why…

Sarah has over a decade of experience in HR, has recently become a mother, and works in Employee Experience at Peppy – a digital platform that helps employers give their people expert support for under-served areas of healthcare including the menopause, fertility, pregnancy, early parenthood, and men’s health.

Meanwhile, Chelsea is a qualified financial planner with a passion for ensuring everyone has access to financial assistance, regardless of their income. She’s also a financial coach at Bippit, working every day with new parents to help relieve anxiety and create financial peace of mind.

 

What are the financial costs of being a new parent?

In a US survey of working women, over 25% said that post-Covid they are considering permanently reducing the amount of time they allocate to their careers, or leaving the labour market for good.

One of the big reasons for this is the cost of childcare, with women often the primary caregiver (per week, women spend 7.7 hours more on childcare than men).

Chelsea explains the situation: “you can save and put yourself in the best possible position, but it’s almost impossible to fully prepare for the financial costs of a child. On average, childcare in the UK costs about £60 a day. If you need it for 25 hours a week then that’s about £6,800 a year which is a lot of extra money. This is on top of early parenting costs such as car seats, clothes, and nursery furniture.”

These extra costs come at a time when a new parent faces a significant loss of earnings.

The current UK statutory maternity pay is 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks. Then it’s £151.97 for the next 33 weeks. That means a new parent earning £30,000 a year can expect to see a drop in earnings of 58% over the whole period. 

That’s a big shortfall to prepare for, something Sarah has seen first-hand: “I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my career is on hold for a little while. I need to budget very differently now, especially with obligations such as a mortgage.”

“Before you become a parent you need to look at your finances a few years out. Only then can you begin controlling your outgoings and get yourself into a position where you’ve saved enough.”

 

Why we don’t talk about parenthood in the workplace

Across many companies there is a stigma attached to talking about having children, mainly due to a fear of how others will perceive you and your future ability to work. This lack of conversation means we don’t talk about the financial implications of having a child, or how to best prepare for one.

Sarah explains: “conversations are so rare, even before pregnancy. For example, fertility is a real issue affecting one in four people. It’s an emotional journey like no other. From losing a pregnancy, to going through a process such as IVF (which in itself is expensive and comes with huge financial stress).”

“People don’t talk about parenthood at work. They are suffering in silence and it really affects their work, output, and office relationships.”

Many people will choose an employee who can best support them if they have a child. But it would take a very brave person to ask a potential employer what their parental policies are at such an early stage in the recruitment process. 

If you run a company, the simple way to address this is to be open and transparent. That way you can attract the very best talent.

 

How early parenthood affects their work and your company

Before, during, and post-baby, there are a range of financial anxieties and emotional uncertainties that new parents (both men and women) go through. 

These pressures are brought into work. Whether it’s a tired parent running a meeting after a broken night’s sleep. Or an anxious one dealing with situations that vary from where to put their baby for eight hours, to what clothes will fit post-childbirth.

Chelsea says: “post-baby, new parents feel under more pressure than ever before. They have a huge amount of worry and don’t feel as financially secure (they could even be in a worse financial position having accumulated debt).”

“This creates extra stress on top of the anxiety of leaving a new baby at home. All of this can make a person distracted at work and less productive. That’s before we begin talking about the implication of childcare costs.”

Sarah is particularly keen to ensure that companies fully support Mums and Dads back into the workplace: “we must make sure their return-to-work process is really effective. How do we help them with their anxiety? How do we ensure they know they’ve got flexibility if they need to leave early?”

“I’ve seen a lot of employees leave after having a baby. They try to make it work but at the end of the year they look at their finances and see their income isn’t much more than their childcare outgoings. They leave and do the childcare themselves which opens up the gender gap and takes women out of the workforce.”

“There’s the motherhood penalty too, where as soon as you’re pregnant you may be overlooked for promotions.”

“In HR we need to challenge ourselves, and the companies we work at, to make sure policies are very inclusive and that families aren’t penalised. We need to do more to give parents all the tools they need to thrive.”

Why companies should support their staff

“Many forward-thinking businesses are looking at their approach to families, not least those businesses who want to be a B Corp,” says Sarah. 

“But there are numerous reasons why companies need to be more inclusive for new parents. I’m so emotionally engaged with Peppy right now because of how they’ve treated me through my pregnancy.”

Fundamentally, if your company can help employees through early parenthood then you’ll have a much happier workforce. 

Your people will go into work feeling completely supported. And you’ll also have a mix of men and women, across different ages, working throughout your company to provide better, and more diverse, thinking.

5 ways to make your workplace better for new parents

Combining our experience at Bippit with the thoughts of both Sarah and Chelsea, here are some things any HR manager or company leader can do today to help any employees in early parenthood…

  1. Be open and engaged with your workforce whether that’s having office areas for breastfeeding, or being more honest with communication.  At a time when a parent’s income is down and expenditure is up, you should engage with your workforce and make new parents feel comfortable having financial conversations, particularly if they’re feeling stressed and worried.
  1. Be as clear as possible about maternity and paternity policies, and make sure you signpost to them so everyone knows what to expect. Chelsea adds: “understand what government support and benefits are available, then tell your employees about them. Things like free NHS dental care and prescriptions, Working Family Tax Credits, child benefits, and paid antenatal leave.”
  1. Measure how you’re doing as a business. How does your company policy compare with others? Collect information on your gender pay gap and the number of women in senior positions. If the number is low, is it because of parenthood? 
  1. Help employees understand the costs of having children, specifically the costs of childcare. Here are some questions to give to new parents:  How much will a child cost you? Is there a shortfall between what you earn and those new costs?  How much do you need to save? What financial protection (i.e. life insurance) do you need in place in case something happens to you or your partner?
  1. Provide long-term support. Chelsea adds: “encourage your employees to create a savings goal so they feel as relaxed as possible with the financial change that’s to come…Look at offering employees a resource such as Bippit. It will give employees 1-1 access to a financial coach who can help them prepare for their unique position. Every person’s situation will be different, so companies need to offer a resource that is flexible to all.”

Want to learn more about your team’s financial health?

Book a free Financial Wellbeing Lunch & Learn for your workplace.

 

Ready to explore how Bippit can

support your team?

How CreateFuture is using financial wellbeing to decrease stress at work

How CreateFuture is using financial wellbeing to decrease stress at work

 

How CreateFuture is using financial wellbeing to decrease stress at work

 

CreateFuture is an award-winning digital development partner, with clients including PayPal, the NHS, and Tesco Bank.

The company prides themself on their long-standing client relationships and ability to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing technological landscape. To do this, they’ve built a close-knit team that knows how to get the best out of each other. 

Karrell Simms, People Partner at CreateFuture, explains: “The leadership team is extremely passionate about nurturing our people. Our Managing Director, Euan, works closely with the people team to create the right culture and support within the company through consistent refinement of processes and policies.”

“In order to ensure that these reflect the needs and goals of our people, we lean on honest conversation to gain meaningful insight into exactly which initiatives will support everyone in a way that suits them best.”

 

 

The importance of employee wellbeing

The People Team were keen to address the financial wellness of the CreateFuture team and, after some research, the agency saw that poor financial wellbeing is the number one cause of stress in the UK.

In order to support their people through the major life changes which influence personal finances (such as house purchases and childcare), the People Team saw an opportunity to further enhance CreateFuture’s wellness programme by offering financial support. 

“In terms of overall employee wellbeing, we are working to put more in place,” People Partner Melissa Richardson says. “Not only tools which support our employees’ health and wellbeing, but also resources that are fun and engaging for our employees to use.”

“By supporting the financial wellbeing of our team, we hope to provide them with the ability to obtain, protect, and utilise financial resources more effectively. This will hopefully help decrease any money-related stress.”

 

Adopting a comprehensive financial support platform

It can be difficult to know where to go for reliable, impartial, and affordable financial support. In fact very often it’s simply unaccessible.

It’s one of the reasons we started Bippit: to ensure every employee has access to a 1-1 financial coach. This comprehensive and tailored support is what attracted CreateFuture to Bippit.

“We looked at other providers, but nothing was as intuitive or comprehensive as Bippit,” says Karrell. 

“Having a dedicated financial coach that every employee could speak to was the major draw. The platform gives every employee almost immediate financial support, and the chat function is really interesting.”

“Bippit seems very easy to use and will hopefully help our people feel more confident and secure in doing things like saving, investing, managing debt, saving for retirement, and dealing with tax issues.”

 

Why financial wellbeing makes sense (both culturally and operationally)

While providing employees with financial support may seem like a ‘nice-to-have’, when you look at the figures it’s now an essential part of any forward-thinking wellbeing strategy. Especially as companies deal with the effects of the pandemic.

The CIPD reports that nearly 1 in 4 say poor financial wellbeing leads to stress in their organisation. And that stress can increase staff turnover, absences, and presenteeism. Like many companies, this is something CreateFuture wants to avoid, as the People Team explains…

“Promoting good mental health and wellbeing is hugely important to us. We want to make sure our team members are looked after, and that they feel valued and supported. Adopting Bippit as a tool for them to use is one way we aim to do this in 2022.”

“By tackling a critical source of stress, Bippit will hopefully help to ease financial concerns and thus increase wellbeing throughout the company.”

Want to improve your team’s financial health in 2022?

Book a free Financial Wellbeing Lunch & Learn for your workplace.

 

Ready to explore how Bippit can

support your team?

The ultimate guide to employee stress and how businesses can tackle it

The ultimate guide to employee stress and how businesses can tackle it

 

The ultimate guide to employee stress and how businesses can tackle it

A recent PerkBox survey found that stress is significantly on the rise in the UK, with the top two causes of this stress being work-related or financial worries. 

This is a huge problem for companies given that, across 2019 and 2020 alone, 17.9 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. 

Our increasing workloads, the need to be constantly online and contactable, and working from home during the pandemic, mean that being stressed has become culturally accepted.

But given that poor mental health costs UK employers up to £45 billion a year, what can companies do to combat both the work-related and financial stress of employees?

To answer that we interviewed two specialists, Graham Landi (a fully qualified counsellor who also works as a therapist for workplace mental health company Spill) and Steve Williams (a chartered financial planner who also works as a financial coach at Bippit). What follows is a summary of that conversation, and an explanation of how companies can recognise, manage, and overcome employee stress.

 

What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

There’s a strong link between mental, work, and financial stress. But that word ‘stress’ covers a whole range of issues, both everyday and more serious one-off periods. Graham explains…

“Stress is a physical and emotional response to being under pressure. So, in that sense, we’re all going to feel stress from time to time. In contrast, anxiety is a feeling of fear or foreboding. The idea that something terrible is going to happen in the future.”

“Stress and anxiety are on a continuum where if you don’t attend to stress, you’ll likely develop an anxiety which will see you avoid the things that are creating the stress.”

While this may sound obvious, it’s an important point for managers to note. If they don’t help an employee deal with work-related stress, it’s likely that that employee will want to avoid work – making them less productive and more likely to leave.

What is financial stress?

“Financial stress is about how in control you feel with your day-to-day finances, and how confident you are about what you need to do,” says Graham.

“Money is never really talked about when we’re at school or university. No one ever really sits you down and explains what certain things mean and this creates a huge element of uncertainty and worry.”

Improving financial literacy, and breaking the taboo of talking about money, is key. It’s something Steve experiences first-hand.

“I’ve seen scenarios where people are stressed about money, but they’re actually in a much better position than they think. They just don’t know it because they don’t talk about money. Most people don’t know where they’re at financially as they haven’t spoken to someone and got reassurance.”

If you manage a team, imagine if you can give your people this reassurance? We’ll look at ways you can do this later, but the potential to ease concerns, grow confidence, and improve loyalty is huge.

 

How has the pandemic affected our stress levels?

“We all have a human need for certainty, and want to feel like we have some idea of what’s going to happen next,” says Graham.

“The pandemic illustrated, in a very stark way, that we don’t know the future. There’s so much uncertainty about what to do next, where people are going to go, and what they want to do with their lives.”

For many, the pandemic has brought about a re-evaluation of what matters to them. From the lifestyle they want, to the job they need. It’s one of the reasons behind the so-called Great Resignation, with a Randstad study finding that 24% of people were planning a job change within three to six months.

Graham adds: “we have this idea in our heads that everybody is leaving their jobs, getting in campervans, and traveling around the world. This creates a huge pressure. There’s a feeling that you’ve got to do something to change your life because other people are doing it. Stress often comes from conflict: what are you doing versus what should you be doing?”

Many people’s plans, goals, and ideals have changed in the past two years. For company leaders it’s crucial they understand any new desires their employees may have. Only then can they create an environment and culture that works for staff in a post-Covid world.

What is the relationship between stress and burnout?

At Bippit we want to give people peace of mind when it comes to their finances. A big part of this is ensuring they have the fundamental financial blocks in place to feel more secure in their life.

Graham says: “The idea that you can live a life without stress is nonsense, and actually not desirable.”

“I like to talk about the stress curve… Having little stress is not good as you start to get bored and everything feels a bit dull (which in itself brings about stress). Instead, you want to hit optimal stress where you’re stretched as much as you need to be. You might be slightly overworked, but it’s only two or three days at a time.”

“If you go over this then you get burnt out. You become overwhelmed by stress and the more you worry about how to keep up with your work, the more stressed you feel.”

What causes stress in the workplace?

Workload is one of the main causes of work-related stress, yet only one in five would choose to discuss their concerns with a superior at work. Companies have a real communication issue to deal with.

Graham explains: “we live in this hustle culture where it’s a badge of honour to be super busy. It stops people (especially leaders and managers) from finding time to give feedback to those they work with.”

“This is a problem because if staff aren’t given feedback then they stress about how they’re doing. It leaves a gap that they fill in with thoughts of their worst-case scenario: ‘If my boss isn’t telling me that I’m doing well then I must be performing badly.’ You start to feel like an impostor.”

On top of these feedback issues, the CIPD reports that nearly 1 in 4 say poor financial wellbeing leads to stress in their organisation…

How can companies support their employees’ financial wellbeing and stress?

Given the daily conversations Steve has with employees, both through his personal practice and the Bippit app, few are better placed to answer the above question.

“It’s important to arm staff with the knowledge and tools they need to take control of their situation, and to empower them to live within their means,” Steve explains.

“Debt has a huge impact on people’s mental health. Do your staff know how they can manage their debt and build an emergency fund? Those two things are the best and quickest ways to improve financial wellbeing.”

Graham adds: “what’s nuts to me is that as an employer you’d ever leave your people struggling with anxiety, stress, or any mental health issue. The very best that will happen is their performance will decline. The worst is that they’ll get sick or leave.”

“Taking care of your people improves their performance in the long run, and makes them so much more loyal, dedicated, and connected to you.”

Combining our experiences at Bippit with the conversations both Steve and Graham are having, here are five actions any manager can take today to tackle their team’s financial stress…

  1. Talk

Have a real conversation with your team about the pandemic and how their goals might have changed. Where are their areas of stress? And how can you be flexible with them to relieve anxieties?

 

  1. Identify

Measure the financial health of your team to understand how financial stress is impacting them. Use the stress curve in 1:1 conversations to track where stress may be impacting a team member negatively. 

 

  1. Open up

Company leaders need to set the tone and start the conversation about money. 

Graham says: “financial health requires connection. You can only connect through vulnerability and that means leaders have to be willing to open themselves up to some degree. They have to take the risk of being judged as without this you can’t really connect.”

 

  1. Review

Look at the tools and resources you have in place to support employees suffering with stress, such as Spill or Bippit, and make sure everyone knows about them. You can’t be the expert in everything, but get the right tools in place so you can signpost people to help.

A Deloitte study found that for every £1 spent by employers on wellbeing interventions, they get £5 back in reduced staff turnover, absence, and presenteeism.

 

  1. Look after yourself 

Think about how you are coping with stress and where you may need support. If staff see their company leaders looking at their own finances then they’re much more likely to engage with the topic.

Want to improve your team’s financial health?

Book one of Bippit’s free Financial Wellbeing Lunch & Learn session for your workplace.

 

Ready to explore how Bippit can

support your team?