How Financial Coaching Can Help Worried Workers

As the world begins to reopen, many of your workers are still concerned about how they will weather the storm financially. Creating or revisiting—and committing to—a spending plan can help reduce their financial stress and empower them to navigate these challenging times with greater confidence.

 

Finances and the economy are among the top stressors for Americans,i and those worries carry over into the workplace. Nearly 80% of workers who report high financial stress say that they’re distracted by stress at work.ii Helping workers fine-tune their household budgets could help reduce that stress. Consumers who have a budget feel more in control, more confident and more secure than their peers who don’t have one.iii

With so many other concerns on their mind, the task of overhauling their budget on their own may feel overwhelming. Still, nearly three-quarters of Americans were living paycheck to paycheckiv even before the pandemic hit, hence the need for financial guidance has become even more critical. In fact, more than 70% of workers say they’d be open to receiving personal financial support at work from a financial professional.v

That creates an ideal opportunity for employers to offer assistance in the form of access to financial coaching and planning tools, which enable participants to be prepared and react thoughtfully when faced with emergencies. Cultivating a more financially resilient workforce, in turn, can help boost productivity and engagement, and decrease absenteeism and turnover—a win-win for both your workers and you.

Acute concerns

Employees may be worried about everything from a spouse’s unemployment to a drastically reduced retirement account, alongside fears about the medical ramifications and the financial toll of contracting (or having a loved one who contracts) COVID-19. Such acute concerns necessitate high-touch, ongoing support such as financial coaching.

Employees who keep to a budget under normal circumstances are ahead of the game but may need to make some adjustments. For those who don’t, this could be a good time to get into the habit. Here’s how a financial coach can help:

  • Taking inventory. A good budget needs to be personalized, reflecting an employee’s current reality, but it should also have flexibility as circumstances change. If someone in an employee’s household has experienced a reduction in income, a coach can help the employee build a budget around their new situation and think about how savings may play a role.
  • Reducing expenses. A financial coach can guide employees through frank conversations with other members of their household as they decide which discretionary items they might put on pause. A coach can play the role of a neutral third-party, offering guidance that can help minimize disputes in potentially stressful conversations. The coach may also help employees make sure they’re taking advantage of any cost-cutting benefits available through their employer. Employees who aren’t taking advantage of discount programs or transit benefits (if available), for example, might find that doing so will stretch their benefits further.
  • Putting technology to use tools. There are a variety of tools—from mobile apps and online tracking tools, to more traditional budgeting spreadsheets and journals— that can help consumers stick to a budget. Financial coaches can help workers select the best tools for their situation (including financial wellness tools through work, if available), and help them get into the habit of using them.
  • Supporting financially responsible self-care. On top of the stress and uncertainty of the moment, living within a tight budget can lead to feelings of deprivation, which can also take a toll on workers’ mental well-being. Working with a financial coach can help employees approach money decisions more mindfully, reducing the financial stress that comes along with them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required your workers to make a lot of adjustments—to their schedules, to their work and to their finances. With the help of financial coaches, workers can implement some thoughtful changes that can help make a big difference in getting through these times and preparing for the road ahead.

Learn more about Morgan Stanley at Work, helping companies and individuals wherever they are on their journey of wealth creation.

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i American Psychological Association (2020): Stress in America 2020

ii Morgan Stanley, “Understanding Workplace Financial Health,” accessed May 21, 2020 https://finhealthnetwork.org/research/workplace-financial-health/

iii News release, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, accessed May 21, 2020 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-shows-consumers-no-matter-their-income-or-assets-need-support-with-spending-household-budgeting-300782885.html

iv News release, American Payroll Association, accessed May 29, 2020 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-finds-majority-of-americans-live-paycheck-to-paycheck-300915266.html

v https://www.morganstanley.com/articles/financial-wellness

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