Mercer: 5 keys to helping reduce real life financial stress

30 October 2015

Life and work can be stressful, stress is bad for the human body, and bad consequently bad for achievement in work and life. To reduce stress, providing financial planning advice in the right way to employees can help reduce their stress, improving everyday performance and increasing their financial success.

In a recent survey by Mercer, the HR consulting firm commissioned a Red C survey of 1,500 UK and Irish employees from a range of industries about their levels of stress and how that stress is affecting them in everyday life.

Mercer - Reduce real life financial stress

Stress is physical debilitating, leading to a number of negative performance factors at work, including loss of concentration, loss of engagement and job satisfaction. In a recent article, titled ‘The Five Secrets to Keeping your Team Happy’, the consultancy looks at five ways in which businesses can alleviate some of the factors producing stress in workers. In particular, those related to retirement planning are highlighted in the article. provides a summary.

The five secrets

1. Adopt the Right Attitude
Through an understanding of what employees worry about and by adopting an attitude of support, some worries, like saving for retirement, can be allayed. According to the article, the key step is to enable the employee through the reduction of barriers. Rather than lecturing employees about their need to save for the future through trainings, the consultancy suggests using peer-based approaches by which employees compare themselves to others that exhibit best or better practice. Nudging, or ‘people like me’ approaches may help employees see how to better save for themselves. 

Right Attitude | Overview

2. Look at the big picture
Personal finances are complex. Income is often already earmarked for debt-repayments, meeting bills, buying an (expensive) balance diet of nutrient rich food, education, supporting dependents, etc. If the person is on a low income, far in the future expenses, like retirement, are less immediately demanding yet remain an issue. One way to support employees is show them how even small contributions in benefit payments for retirement have an impact on their long term savings. Helping employees understand how small actions bear on the big picture, they may become more engaged with their own futures.

3. Keep it personal
With the wide range of employee backgrounds and financial positions, a personal touch is needed with respect to planning for their individual financial planning and retirement. By keeping it personal and relevant to their current situation, employees will be more likely to remain engaged and make positive long term decisions. By drawing on a wide range of sources to show how decisions today will affect tomorrow, employers can provide a strong basis for beneficial choices. Data privacy remains a critical issue for personally identifiable information however. 

Personal touch | Digital technology | Quality products

4. Use technology but don’t forget the personal touch
Digital technology is often able to provide a simple way to oversee complex information if well presented. Technology is able to help employees better understand the sometimes complex calculations required in financial planning. The Mercer study highlights however that 43% of employees are more satisfied by their employer if face-to-face financial advice is presented as well as online advice. According to the consultancy, employees will come to expect mobile solutions to their financial planning needs. 

5. Provide access to high-quality products
Because employees can access a diverse range of high quality financial planning products through the internet among others, they will be able to research and compare benefit packages. Providing a leading suite of high quality packages within a strong governance framework, for employees, therefore becomes a key factor. According to the research, 50% of employees are looking for a better deal on insurance, financial and retirement products – something sometimes difficult for employers to provide off the bat.


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