Nona Buckley-Irvine works with a trade union and has a special focus on young adults. A young employee herself, she shares five ways that employers can support the financial capability of young workers, particularly those struggling with debt.
Listen without judgement
There can be a perception of university students going wild with their money and being reckless. This can be the case, but there are lots of students who simply struggle financially. Don’t assume that someone’s financial position is the result of late-night drinking and takeaways, there is likely a lot more to it.
Debt for young people is often seen as student debt – this has none of the implications of commercial debt. Commercial debt is much, much worse than student loans. Prioritise tackling these types of debt – whether it be credit cards, overdrafts or loans. Being overindebted in these areas has the potential to ruin lives.
Provide spaces to speak up in the workplace
The workplace is one of the best places to have conversations around money, because it feels far less personal than talking about it with family and friends. It could be running a ‘Lunch and Learn’ session on budgeting, which will be particularly helpful for young people who are new to work. Or it could be sending out messaging around key moments like Christmas to signpost to support, or having a hardship fund that people can access for those one-off costs.
Provide financial support
Interest-free season ticket loans, where you pay back through payroll deduction, are great. Be bold and go one step further. Young renters have to stump up huge amounts of cash for a rental deposit – could you develop an interest-free deposit loan scheme that young people can access when they are looking to move out?
Be mindful of work socials
Socialising at work is great, but it can be costly. No-one wants to miss out on their Christmas party, yet it can come at a significant personal cost. Work to the lowest common denominator – what could a person on the lowest wage afford?
12 – 18 November 2018 is Talk Money Week, a national conversation about money. But the conversation on financial capability is ongoing.
Learn more about ways to engage with financial capability as an employer and explore The UK Financial Capability Strategy for adults of working age and people in financial difficulties.