Thriving in the Age of Ambiguity

Last year we issued our first Age of Ambiguity report, looking at the blurring of lines between home and work life. Now we’re well into 2021, we’ve followed up that research, considering the post-Covid world.

Our new report Thriving in the Age of Ambiguity, looks at financial wellbeing and how our relationships with money, experiences of working life and hopes for the future have evolved in unprecedented circumstances.  What short- and long-term hopes have we acquired both in and out of work? What trade-offs are we willing to make to achieve them? And, more broadly, how does personality affect our ability to survive and thrive in a climate of ambiguity?

We define financial wellbeing as a sense of security from the feeling you have enough money to meet your needs. It's also about being in control of your day-to-day finances and having the financial freedom to make choices that allow you to enjoy life.

We also reveal how personality plays a key role in determining our preferences, behaviours and outcomes, both at home and at work. We also explore how four distinct personality types can affect financial wellbeing.

What did we discover?

Our research revealed a number of findings supporting the view that financial wellbeing is an important factor in being able to thrive during this Age of Ambiguity:

  • 24% of employees feel they made a bad decision about debt during the pandemic, rising to 51% for those aged 18 to 24[1]Footnote 1
  • 29% have had to borrow to replace lost income
  • 68% with poor financial wellbeing think they are organised with money and 64% state they always try to minimise debt.
  • 39% of employees agree their financial situation is affecting their mental health
  • 51% of someone’s sense of wellbeing is driven by other factors, including personality type

We found that, in many cases, the extraordinary events of the last year accelerated awareness amongst employees of the importance of personal financial wellbeing.

Poor financial wellbeing isn’t about being bad with money

Our latest report challenges the stereotype that money worries are simply the result of financial disorganisation or a lack of knowledge. There is more in play that that.

Our research shows financial factors only account for 51% of someone’s financial wellbeing, with the rest being down to other factors, including personality. An individual’s personality type has a huge influence on individual behaviour, mindset and personal outcomes.

Employees who are coping better with adversity tend to be naturally more emotionally resilient and optimistic. Those with less emotional resilience regularly experience negative emotions, low financial and mental wellbeing, along with feelings of anxiety.

Laura Stewart-Smith, Head of Workplace Savings and Retirement at Aviva, says: “The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered our relationship with money, work and health. While some employees have been able to boost their financial wellbeing by saving more, with large swathes of the economy closed, others have found their income reduced and are facing larger debts or having to provide support for dependent family members.

Our report shows many trends which have been gathering pace in recent years have now reached an inflection point, as new preferences emerge to shape the way we work, feel, think and plan ahead. Financial education in the workplace is nothing new, but now more than ever, there is a fundamental need for employers to provide tailored support for employees to ensure they can genuinely thrive in the ‘Age of Ambiguity’.

Financial confidence can have a tremendous impact on mental health and personality type has a huge influence on behaviour and mindset too. Greater support is vital for employees to thrive in an increasingly ambiguous financial environment. We believe there is a crucial role that employers can play in facilitating this. One which introduces a new dimension of personality type.”

What can employers do?

There is a fundamental need for employers to offer tailored support to employees to help them thrive in the Age of Ambiguity.

To do help you do that, we’ve put forward these considerations for employers like you:

  • Personalising wellbeing and the top-down culture shift
    Our research shows it works best to take a rounded view of your employees’ wellbeing, rather than use a one-size-fits-all approach. Understanding the need for a personalised approach to employees’ wellbeing is key.

    Plus, change starts from the top. By walking the walk, you can bring your managers and employees with you to embed a culture of wellbeing.

    Top tips
  • Embed a culture of wellbeing within your organisation that starts from the top down
  • Understand and respond to your employees’ workplace wellbeing needs
  • Introduce a workplace wellbeing strategy
  • Support managers with training and education

  • Making financial education personal
    Financial wellbeing is about feeling secure and in control, knowing you can pay the bills today, deal with the unexpected, and are on track for a healthy financial future.

    More employees are looking for this type of support from their employer, and you are ideally placed to help them by offering individualised support in accessible, manageable chunks through a variety of channels.

    Top tips
  • Consider wider workplace savings to help accommodate varied needs for short-, medium- and long-term savings
  • Make financial education sessions digital and available to all workers
  • Offer member communications promoting east-to-take steps such as using online tools

Find out more

Our new report, Thriving in the Age of Ambiguity offers many valuable insights into how employees are feeling as society adjusts to the changes and challenges the pandemic has brought.

It offers considerable food for thought alongside information on how to build resilience within your workforce to cope with the new realities of work in the post-Covid world.

Download the report now.

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