Leave us a message

Caring for Employees' Financial Well-being

CEO's Thoughts

Caring for Employees' Financial Well-being

  • Caring for Employees' Financial Well-being Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift shares his views on how companies can help to support the financial wellbeing of their employees.
  • Date: Jul 28, 2022
  • Category: CEO's Thoughts
  • Print

Caring for Employees' Financial Well-being

The world is gradually returning to pre-pandemic normalcy after two years of fighting the pandemic. As restrictions ease, we can now enjoy the little things that most of us may have taken for granted before the pandemic, such as family gatherings and being outdoors with our loved ones. Unfortunately, we are now confronted with another societal challenge – inflation and rising cost of living.

We have seen food prices rising rapidly in mid-2020 as a result of business closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With the global supply shortage now exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war, we can expect this trend to continue. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, food prices reached an all-time high in February and March this year (the FAO Food Price Index1 averaged 141.1 points and 159.7 points, respectively). Meanwhile, some countries have stopped exporting food staples in order to alleviate supply shortages among their own populations.

The same trend can be seen in other types of products and services that the general population relies on, such as fuel, furniture, electronics, car repairs, medicines, and many others. As inflationary pressures mount, everyone will be affected, particularly low-income households.

I recognise that many aspects must be carefully evaluated in order to combat inflation and rising living costs. They include, among others, government policies on subsidies, human capital upskilling and reskilling, implementation of living wage and adoption of digital solutions to increase workforce productivity. However, I believe companies too, can play a role in assisting employees to deal with this increasingly pressing issue.

A wellness survey by PwC2 has shown that financially stressed employees tend to have lower productivity at work because they spend time dealing with their financial problems at work. The survey highlighted that more than half of financially stressed employees spend three hours or more each week during work hours worrying about their financial situation, while the vast majority (73%) of employees whose productivity was impacted by their financial issues suffered from lower self-esteem. Additionally, the survey revealed that financially stressed employees are more likely to look for new jobs (76%) with organisations that care more about their financial well-being.

Given the close relationship between financial wellness and mental health, it is therefore, critical for companies to begin focusing on their employees’ financial well-being. I would like to share three approaches that companies may take and rise 

Promoting Financial Education at Work

Promoting financial education at work benefits both employees and employers. Equipping your employees with financial knowledge will enable them to make more informed financial decisions and achieve better financial outcomes. Employers can also advocate healthy spending habits by incorporating financial wellness as part of their employee engagement efforts. This includes organising webinars and seminars on financial literacy topics such as budgeting, investing, retirement planning and other relevant financial themes. In addition, companies can organise financial wellness workshops to allow employees to take charge of their finances, achieve life goals and gain financial resilience and stability.

Bursa Malaysia has designed a programme to assist corporates in providing financial literacy education. We hope to empower individuals with practical know-hows through our Sens-Ability programme, which focuses on personal money management, budgeting, savings, investing insights and financial fraud. For further details regarding our Sens-Ability programme, please visit Bursa Academy, our comprehensive one-stop e-learning platform that combines an informal learning experience with a comprehensive overview of the capital market. The website contains a wide range of easy explainers, articles, infographics and videos on financial literacy and investing.

Providing Financial Aid or Attractive Benefits

Offering more comprehensive benefits that cover various living expenses can help companies protect their employees’ financial well-being while also attracting and retaining talent. Employees typically feel that companies that provide better benefits are investing in their overall health as well as their future. Ultimately, housing loans, car loans, pension or retirement plans, performance bonuses, company stock options and education or childcare support subsidies will not only help lighten the employees’ financial burdens, but will also support wealth creation and the building of a nest egg for retirement.

In addition, some organisations have established cooperatives (or better known as Koperasi in Malaysia) to support financial inclusion among their employees by providing access to affordable savings and investment opportunities, yearly dividend returns as well as instalment and financing schemes.

Offering Support with Peer-to-Peer Financial Programmes, Counselling or Assistance

The prevailing economic challenges and rise in cost of living may pose financial strain to some employees especially the middle to lower-income group. Companies could look to support the well-being of their own employees by offering the necessary care, assistance and support. This includes providing financial support and peer-to-peer programmes for employees to share their problems, as well as seek collaborative solutions. Additionally, employers can leverage this platform to address a variety of financial wellness topics, such as budgeting advice, building an emergency fund or investing in a retirement fund.

Employers can also provide employees with access to professional or trained agencies that can help them address their financial problems. For example, the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency, better known as Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit (AKPK) of Bank Negara Malaysia, provides financial coaching to individuals, particularly in debt management.

While I understand that most businesses are currently struggling to recover from the pandemic amid higher operating costs, I believe it is vital that companies also proactively manage their employee’s well-being. As the backbone of every business, the wellness of your employees will contribute to the sustainable growth of your company.


  • Tags : Bursa Speaks

Other Trending