Wright Hassall is a 175-year-old legal firm with a reputation for putting people at the heart of everything they do.
The 200-strong business employs individuals across the full spectrum of their careers – from graduates just starting out, all the way up to senior lawyers and partners. When Human Resources Director, Mark Shrimpton, joined the firm, he saw an opportunity to move from a more static approach to benefits to a model that could flex to the diverse needs of his colleagues. Since moving to a hybrid model of working, post-pandemic, employee engagement was also a top priority. “Good benefits only go so far if people aren’t engaging.”
Striking a Balance on Wellbeing
There was also a renewed focus on wellbeing across the firm – and as they introduced new physical and mental health initiatives, they saw an opportunity to do something more impactful on financial wellbeing. “We knew we wanted to get the balance right across all the pillars of wellbeing,” Mark says. “Even with digital content and support from our EAP, we noticed a gap in our financial wellbeing offering and wanted to do more to improve employee engagement in that area.”
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On their search for a more tailored approach to financial wellbeing that would engage employees across every level of the business, they met Octopus Money. “One of the biggest challenges is finding a benefit that flexes to different needs and that’s what sets Octopus apart.” With Octopus, every Wright Hassall employee gets access to their own money coach, who gets to know their goals and builds them a personalised financial plan. “It’s a service that recognises that everyone is an individual,” Mark says. The customised plans include action points like budgeting, saving, pensions and investments – depending on what’s right for each employee. But coaches always remain impartial guides and never recommend specific products or services.
Increasing Employee Engagement with a Personal Touch
The personal touch fits with the ethos of the firm and makes a big difference to how employees engage. “We had some digital financial content in place for employees, but our experience was that it didn’t generate much engagement.” Speaking to a real person, on the other hand, can feel more valuable and ultimately, reassuring.
The fact that the benefit is cost-neutral to the firm also made it an easy pitch internally. All employees get the value of a free 1-to-1 session, plus access to live monthly webinars and other content – and those who want to build a personal plan with their coach can pay via salary sacrifice. This allows Wright Hassall to pass on an effective discount of up to 43% to employees, who pay from their pre-tax salary.
What’s Mark’s advice to other HR teams looking into financial wellbeing? Firstly, be mindful that “financial wellbeing can be a sensitive topic for employees.” That’s why it’s important to “give them access to someone who’s independent and impartial and can tailor support to their needs.” And to really engage employees on money, “it can’t feel cold and dry.” A friendly face can completely change how someone feels about money.