One that really got me thinking was the launch by financial advice firm Quilter of its new online resource to support the mental health of advisers and their clients
It offers a host of web-based materials including podcasts, articles and other resources. This set my mind racing about how we can all use technology and digital communications to put an arm around people during this crisis.
Quilter’s initiative looks very scalable – it’s underpinned by technology and digital communications – and so I wanted to think more about how institutions can use tech to support the mental wellbeing of their employees and their customers in a scalable way.
I believe there is a fundamental principle that is relevant to both stakeholder groups: this is not just a health and economic crisis, it is fundamentally a people crisis. This is, therefore, not the time to be looking after profit – it's a time to be looking after people who make that profit.
Using tech to support employees
As an employer, this means looking after your staff while they are working at home or furloughed. We should be ensuring we know not just whether those still working have set up their home offices, or whether they are continuing to drive revenue – but whether they feel connected to colleagues and confident about the future. Put another way, not just whether they are working well, but whether they are feeling well.
For furloughed staff, we should be asking not only whether they understand their new terms and conditions, but whether they need any financial guidance or support.
And the tech angle to this? It’s a mixture of the obvious and the not-so-obvious. You can, of course, use video-calling to check in every week with furloughed and still-working colleagues. Why not invite them together to an informal video call purely about how they are coping, as opposed to the nitty gritty of day to day work. The group atmosphere can help address feelings of isolation.
Using the company intranet also a great way to reach your staff at their point of need and show them you care. Does your website house easily discoverable and comprehensible answers to the many questions they might have? Does it signpost the best third-party support?
Two examples of digital support
During the lockdown, Moneyhub put in place a ‘virtual coffee and chat’ every two weeks on Slack, randomly pairing two people in the company that may not have a lot to do with each other naturally. They had brownies delivered to their homes for the chat and the firm’s CEO Sam Seaton described in this video how the initiative has lifted everyone’s spirits.
Nationwide sent out a survey to all 18,000 of its employees asking how they feel mentally. The initiative will no doubt provide actionable insights and make staff feel looked after.
Using tech to support customers
At Wealth Wizards we work with many financial institutions, such as banks and building societies. Many of them are beginning to think about how they can use technology to provide guidance and advice when customers are unable to speak to an actual financial adviser.
That sort of tech is also a perfect way to check in on the mental wellbeing of customers at the same time.
To show how this can be done, we’ve added a ‘COVID–19 financial survival toolkit’ to our flagship advice platform to help people impacted by the lockdown. The module includes guidance in areas such as, how to cope if your work situation changes and, creating a new household budget.
It is part of Wealth Wizards’ advice engine Turo, which can be used in collaboration with a financial adviser or accessed directly by customers of financial institutions, such as banks and building societies.
So, by adding to existing apps and websites, and to the new ways we’re all sharing information during lockdown, we can support both our employees and our staff with their mental health needs, as well as in the ways we are used to helping them.
The goodwill you sow in these two groups in the bad times, you will reap tenfold in loyalty and trust when times are good again.