USA Today recently reported that 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The workforce is also getting older on average as baby boomers choose to work beyond the normal retirement age both full-time and part-time. Add all that to the stable employment levels, and leaders find themselves in a unique position these days of helping their people with things that would not have been discussed outside the home in the past.
A couple of areas you should consider establishing plans or protocols to help your employees with would be helping them achieve a better standing with both their finances (i.e., retirement planning, paying off debts including student loans) and their mental health (such as stress management, addiction issues, and more).
Not Just About Being Nice
Sure, as an employer and leader, whatever you can do to help people is great from a “nice guy” perspective, but much of what you can do will also improve productivity of our people while at work and their sense of belonging and joy in their jobs. There should be less sick days used and more smiles as well.
Also, being a leader you may feel that you need to cut out all emotions from the work place. But this is not always true. Being a great leader means you’re someone who can guide your employees to a path clear path for success. If your employees are aware of their career path that has a clear structure, it will be easier for them to vision their goals, and feel valued.
A great way to form a clear path to success is by establishing a line of career progression. This can be done by taking a look at each stage of the job and breaking it down into a 3-10 year plan. Understand that each phase will depend on the employees experience. Create yearly reviews that will be transparent and keep the employee motivated to reach each stage. When the structure or path for success is laid out, it’s easier for employees to have patience, since they will at least know when the time is right. Additionally, it alleviates the stress of them worrying about random reviews. They will be prepared, and possibly bring questions, or have other suggestions on how to improve the steps they have already taken.
Many companies such as Chegg, Randomhouse, Aetna, and Fidelity have established protocols to help employees pay off student loans. And chances are, if your employees are coming into entry level roles, they are bringing a burden of debt with them. If this is something you think would help many of your people, consider a way to approach the idea with your people. You might do it through a matching plan, much like a retirement plan often matches funds up to a percentage of what the employee pays on their debts. You could offer to match 5% of what the employee pays during their first year at your company, but increase the percentage as they continue.
Another possibility could be a company-sponsored credit union that offers small loans at lower interest rates. That facility might also teach financial skills to your employees such as setting up an effective budget, retirement planning, and investing strategies.
Hopefully, no one at your organization thinks of mental health issues as something that is unacceptable in an employee. Employee’s are human, and while they may not be your family members, they are someone who dedicate a huge portion of their life to helping a company succeed. A Deloitte study in the UK estimates that 84% of employees have dealt with some form of mental condition during working hours. Stop thinking in terms of all those FBI profiling shows when you hear “mental health issues.” Instead relate it to things such as depression, stress, addictions, ADHD, bad coping skills, and bad habits. Have you seen those types of things in the workplace?
Your “yes” means that your organization can seriously benefit with some help at the office for such issues. The way you decide to approach this in your company will probably start with the biggest problem being faced currently by one or more of your people. If you can help with these problems, your people will be on the job more and more focused too. You might hire a therapist to be available a day or two each week or month (depending on the size of your organization), vouchers for reimbursement if an employee sees a therapist outside the office, even more socialization happening on a regular basis.