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Employee Financial Wellbeing Linked to Profitability
by PNG Business News - March 15, 2021
Did you know that employee ‘money worries’ associated with poor financial wellbeing can negatively impact business profitability? Financial literacy training is a relatively easy and cost-effective solution to improving employee financial wellbeing and thus mitigating the negative effects of ‘financially stressed’ staff. Helping your employees access responsible loan products – some of which are now available in PNG via new and ethical personal lending start-ups – also has a role to play in their financial wellbeing.
The effects of financial stress and poor financial wellbeing on employees can be as great as physical sickness. Many employees admit that they spend several hours each week dealing with financial issues while at work. A 2020 survey by PwC revealed ‘money worries’ to be the biggest cause of employee stress and that the stress is a major distraction at work. It is estimated that over 80 percent of the PNG workforce is experiencing some level of financial stress.
How Does Poor Employee Financial Wellbeing Impact Business Profitability?
Financial wellbeing is closely linked to financial stress. It is estimated that employee financial stress is costing Australian businesses $31.1 billion annually. Whilst specific data does not exist for PNG businesses, we estimate it to be high. We also know that financial stress takes a toll on employees’ health—both mentally and physically – as well as on business health.
Employee financial stress contributes to increased absenteeism, lower quality work output, decreased productivity, increased staff turnover and associated recruitment and training costs, as well as even workplace theft. Studies show that employee financial stress is costing businesses up to 19% of their payroll costs! A financially stressed workforce is therefore bad for the bottom line.
What exactly is financial wellbeing?
Financial Literacy Australia defines financial wellbeing as when you are:
- able to meet expenses and have some money left over;
- in control of your finances; and
- feeling financially secure, now and in the future.
Financial literacy, that is, a personal’s ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills such as saving, budgeting, investing and responsible borrowing, underpins financial wellbeing.
The business solution
Financial literacy is key to reducing financial stress and improving financial wellbeing. Providing employees with financial literacy education is also part of being a socially responsible employer as well as an employer of choice.
Significantly – and especially in PNG’s current economic climate – equipping staff with the right skills to understand and competently manage their personal finances will also impact positively on your bottom line.
Solomon islands business – financial literacy success story
In neighbouring Solomon Islands, food manufacturing company SolTuna (one of the country’s largest employers) significantly cut staff absenteeism and consequently improved productivity, increased revenue, and cut costs largely via a financial literacy program.
Prior to receiving financial literacy education many staff were taking days off work because they couldn’t adequately manage their pay to last them from one pay cycle to the next. Absentee staff were raising additional money in other ways such as selling produce at local markets in order to make ends meet. On fortnightly paydays, many workers would head to the bank or the market instead of the workplace when their pay checks are deposited to do some much-needed shopping or pay off creditors.
Overall, the program was considered a great success by not just SolTuna but also by its employees.
Additional ways to improve employee financial wellbeing
There are other ways in which employers can facilitate the financial wellbeing of their employees in addition to providing them with financial literacy education.
- A good benefits package is a must. Performance incentives in the shape of bonuses, and clarity about pay bands are a great starting point.
- Offer competitive salaries. This one might sound obvious—and expensive—but, it is worth the effort.
- Give employees time off (or flexible work schedules) to allow them to put their finances in order – be it visiting the bank to set up internet banking or to pay out a high interest loan.
- Incorporate financial advisers in to your broader wellness or employee assistance program.
- Assist employees with their tax returns.
- Even understanding payslips can be complex for some employees—helping employees to understand their payslips can reduce the burden of stress.
- Encourage (and better still, facilitate) responsible borrowing – especially personal lending which in PNG, can attract interest rates of up to 50 percent per fortnight!
Facilitating responsible borrowing
Access to affordable credit is a right not available to the majority of PNG employees. As such, and in combination with poor financial literacy, staff often turn to unethical ‘pay-day street lenders’. Street lenders typically charge extremely high interest rates (up to 1000 percent per annum) and often ‘over lend’ exacerbating and perpetuating unsustainable debt burdens.
Many PNG businesses offer in-house employee loans to mitigate the risks posed by unethical pay day lenders. However, the administrative burden of managing loan books can be high. An alternative is now available via personal lending start up – Savi Moni.
Responsible lender offers financial literacy education
Newcomer to the PNG Lending market, Savi Moni’s personal loan solution was developed to help corporate sector employees take control of their finances and enjoy financial wellbeing whilst simultaneously reducing the negative business impact of financially stressed employees.
“We want to give employers and employees a beneficial staff lending solution that incorporates financial literacy to help avoid future financial stress” says Founder, Nick Keane. Born and bred in PNG and with several in-country business experiences, Nick understands the problems that staff loans cause for businesses as well as the financial stress generated for many PNG households. He is passionate about creating an improved sustainable solution.
Financial literacy education is a central component of the Savi Moni loan product, with a PNG specific formal ‘family money management’ workplace training, delivered by Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) available to interested employers. The training has been developed specifically to suit the PNG context and to help families strengthen skills in planning and saving for the future, as well as seeking advice about money and finance.
Savi Moni’s financial literacy education offers a gender inclusive approach, encouraging men and women from family groups to participate collaboratively. In addition, Savi Moni offers ‘Moni Savi’ - a range of free resources and tools on their website, targeting for both employers and employees to help improve financial literacy and reduce financial stress.
Improved financial literacy in combination with responsible borrowing contributes significantly to employee financial wellbeing and helps mitigate the negative business impacts of a financially stressed workforce. There is a clear business and social case for supporting employees’ financial wellbeing and for partnering with responsible personal lending services such as Savi Moni – which has financial literacy education firmly embedded in its loan products. To learn more: www.savimonipng.com.
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PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Price of Oil Recovers in Spite of COVID
According to Oil Search, oil prices have risen steadily in recent months from the initial effect of the Covid-19 last year, when prices ranged about US$43 (K150) per barrel of oil (bbl), to levels above US$60/bbl (K210) since February this year. In response to questions, a group spokesperson said,“ To date, there has been no impact to production in our Oil Search operations in PNG as a result of the recent surge in the Covid-19 cases. The increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in PNG has prompted Oil Search to enact its crisis and emergency management plans. The health and safety of our employees remain the company’s highest priority and teams have been assembled in PNG and Sydney to deploy additional support to protect our people and to ensure the safety and reliability of our operations. At our PNG field locations, we continue to operate under precautionary protocols established in 2020, which includes redeployment of non-essential personnel, restriction of access and travel to field locations and implementation of strict preventative measures and quarantine zones.” He added, “We have enacted additional risk mitigation measures include establishing ‘cocoons’ for our field teams and extending the quarantine period for employees and contractors. To date, there has not been a single positive case recorded in our operating sites outside of quarantine. We have also conducted more than 7,500 Covid-19 tests at our medical clinics and quarantine facilities in PNG. Beyond the safety of our own people and assets, Oil Search stands ready to work with relevant Government and health authorities to assist in PNG’s overall response to the Covid-19. This includes the dissemination of accurate information around the Covid-19 and vaccinations, supporting provincial health authorities to implement an effective vaccination programme, and providing logistics and cold chain support where required and as directed by the Government.”
PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Lae Chamber Welcomes Green Energy
The Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said it welcomes any power plan that is long-term, environmentally friendly and creates jobs in the delivery of efficient, low-cost electricity in Lae and Morobe. President John Byrne referred to concerns regarding the PNG Biomass project in the province's Markham Valley when he said, “PNG Biomass has provided a solution which ticks most of these boxes, whether it fits the plan of PPL (PNG Power Ltd) is a decision beyond our scope. The recent Ramu 2 announcement is another such solution. Our people of Lae, Morobe, and PNG, not only expect but deserve, reliable, constant and cost-effective power solutions.” According to Byrne, the Lae business group praised the Lae PPL team for their commitment, hard work, and communication in maintaining an ageing and insecure grid infrastructure operational. He said many companies that had short or long-term contracts with the government were failing because of the long-standing outstanding Government bills owing to them. “The quantum of debt is not specified but very large and this added to the impact of the Covid-19, resource debates and a lack of forex is taking a toll on the business houses.,” he said.
PNG Business News - April 08, 2021
Businesses Concerned Regarding Government Debts
With the outstanding amount of government debt owed to the sector, pending landowner fees, and rising law and order woes, businesses are concerned about 2022. According to Chey Scovell, chief executive officer of the PNG Manufacturers Board, conversations within the business community revealed that the government owed companies more than K2 billion. “I don’t have an updated list, but from general conversations with business and what is being raised with the various chambers, it would exceed K2 billion,” he said. “We hear that contractors for the Department of Works have claims for this amount alone, so the number could be as high as K3 billion. No doubt they may have paid some, technically a K1 payment would be paying at least some. The Budget hasn’t been able to be implemented properly at all. Recurrent expenditure, monthly bills for things like water, power, security, rent, are not being paid in full or in many cases at all. We’ve suggested that the Government put up an online portal/list, for all creditors to register for the Government to show full or progressive payments.” Scovell compared what the government was doing to the private community to what would happen if everybody started paying taxes for one to five years but continued to use government programs. “They wouldn’t be able to survive, so how is it that they expect businesses to carry on?” he said. “It is also a bit of a cop-out that Treasury is taking a long time and in many instances taking extensive reviews of claims to see if they will pay them and by how much.” Scovell argued that the government was required to behave in good faith and to set a precedent, but that forcing or intimidating companies to make substantial reductions in compensation due for goods and services rendered was bad form. “We note there are many dodgy claims, but there seems to be little evidence that hires car firms, public works contractors and catering firms (reported as problematic areas) are having the same scrutiny,” he said. “BOC Gas waited years to be paid for medical gases such as oxygen supplied to PMGH (Port Moresby General Hospital), it was reviewed twice that I know of and not paid. The other item of note is that debt carried is a growing debt. The older it gets the more it has cost the businesses.” He added, “Also, our currency has been depreciating, many businesses based their fees on the foreign exchange rates at that time, some even had loans Just like our tax penalties, the longer they are overdue, the higher they should become. This Government isn’t doing to others as it does for itself. We still have micro, small and medium enterprises that have suffered duress due to non-payment of bills going all the way back to our 40th Independence, same goes for the 2015 Pacific Games, we hear from the regional chambers that there are many outstanding claims for the past two elections. Again, if we had a publicly available list, the Government wouldn’t be able to hide behind confusion and people could whistleblow on dubious claims.”