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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High employment drives deals to access fresh talent

09 April 2019

The UK continues to have a historically low unemployment rate, resulting in a tightening employment market and demand for recruitment services. The industry topped £12.3 billion last year, while valuations continued to rachet up. There were were 32 firm acquisitions in the recruitment services space last year, up significantly on the previous five-year average.

Labour markets globally are tightening, particularly in developed economies. At the same time, access to top talent is becoming increasingly difficult to source, as demand for that talent continues to rise. Higher demand has been one of the key drivers for acquisitions in the space. New analysis of the recruitment M&A market, from consultancy firm BDO, looks at current trends and future projections for activity in the segment.

The UK employment rate has grown considerably over the past decade, with the number of NEET decreasing, more women joining the workforce, and older people continuing to work, among other trends. Participation rates hit more than 75% in 2018, up from around 73% in 2014. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.1% last year, the lowest level in more than 40 years.

UK Recruitment Market


The recruitment industry has enjoyed strong growth over the same period, with revenues increasing from around £8 billion in 2014 to £12.3 billion last year. However, the growth rate for the industry is expected to stall for the coming years – the firm is projecting annual growth of 0.1% to 2024. The stall reflects deep seated uncertainties stemming from the future of the UK, from migration to internal employment in an increasingly uncertain future.

According to the firm’s analysis of market trends for UK listed FTSE recruitment companies, their performance over 2018 outperformed the wider FTSE market by a significant market during some months – the end-of-year uncertainty hit both recruitment and non-recruitment firms with relatively equal strength. The drop partly reflects market sentiment about the future of the UK.

FTSE Listed Recruitment Firms Average EV/EBITDA Multiple


The study also considered the multiples growth, average EV/EBITDA multiples, over the past year – which has shown considerable ups and downs. The yearly average multiple of 10.4x was above that of 2017’s 9.9x – although a 26% drop at the end of the year was significant. The drop was tied to the relative volatility in macroeconomic conditions affecting the globe, though another major contributing factor has been Brexit and political instability.

Global M&A

The global recruitment M&A market was particularly active in the UK, with 32 deals last year – a five-year high, and well above the 17 recorded for second-place US. Deal activity in the UK was focused on expertise and capacity in industrial and technical sectors, reflecting skills shortages in those segments. The US was largely focused on healthcare-related M&A, representing 25% of their market.

Overall, of the 92 deals in 2018 (a 21% drop on 2017) generalist firms were the most in demand, at 25% of the total, followed by education at 14% and engineering & construction at 13%. Software saw relatively low demand, at 2%.Investment into the UK by country

In terms of investments made into the UK, domestic investment continues to be the most dominant, accounting for 24 deals. Japan made three deals, although Brexit is seeing the country become increasingly nervous about investment. The US accounted for two deals. The longer-term trend shows that domestic investment is up on 2017, hitting the highest level in five years, while the US has reduced its M&A investment into the UK.

Commenting on the results, the firm noted, “The latest report shows the recruitment sector remains strong and continued to grow through 2018 despite facing many challenges. Notwithstanding the personalised nature of these services, the market continues to evolve, seeing traditional recruitment firms utilising available technology along with new entrants showcasing innovative platforms.”

Related: High UK employment masks troubled economy.