Why financial wellbeing is important in the workplace

Improving employee wellbeing is one of the top priorities of HR leaders today. But what many people don’t realise is that 1.2 million households are currently suffering from financial stress. Therefore financial wellbeing is actually what sits at the centre of holistic wellness and has the potential to drive the most significant impact on working Australians. In this post, we’ll explain how to improve financial wellbeing in your workplace. 

Financial wellbeing initiatives to bring into the workplace

Thankfully, there are many financial wellbeing initiatives that you can introduce to your employees. We share some of the most impactful ones below, along with an explanation of how they’ll improve the financial wellness levels of your workforce. 

Novated car leasing

A novated lease allows employees to finance a new or used car by having their employer make payments out of their salary package with pre-tax deductions. With this arrangement, your employee is paying down a certain amount for a specified period of time. At the end of the lease period, they can choose to take out a new lease with a different car, extend the existing lease, or buy the car by paying the residual amount.  

How this supports financial wellbeing:

One of the benefits of a novated lease is the tax break. Since the payments are coming out of your employee’s pre-tax income, your employee’s taxable income will be significantly reduced. Plus, your employees won’t have to worry about things like the goods and services tax (GST), which means they’ll have much more disposable income to use for their other needs. 

Flexible pay 

Flexible pay gives employees the ability to choose when they get paid – instead of following the organisation’s payroll schedule. For example, instead of receiving a paycheck every two weeks, an employee can choose to cash out on a weekly basis or even in real time. The whole purpose of this system is to allow employees to choose a compensation schedule that works for their specific needs and lifestyle. 

How this supports financial wellbeing: 

As you might imagine, flexible pay can ease a lot of financial anxiety for employees. Instead of worrying about whether they’ll receive a paycheck in time to pay rent or cover a credit card bill, flexible pay allows them to access the money whenever they need it. 


Superannuation is money that’s set aside by your employer for your retirement – on top of your salary and wages. Employers are required by Australian law to make superannuation contributions for most of their employees and typically pay a minimum of 9.5% of ordinary time earnings.

How this supports financial wellbeing: 

Superannuation is one of the best financial benefits for employees because it guarantees that they’ll have funds to use in retirement. Workers can also decide to make additional contributions to their own account or might be eligible to receive contributions from the Australian government, which can further increase the amount of retirement savings they accumulate.

Investment vehicles

There are many investment vehicle options that you can introduce to your employees – from managed funds to share schemes with your own company. Regardless of which ones you make available to your workforce, the most important part is educating them so they can decide which option is best for them. This can be done through training or financial literacy workshops.  

How this supports financial wellbeing: 

Helping employees find ways to invest and grow their money over time will help them in the long run – whether it’s when they retire or run into an emergency where they might need additional funds to dip into. 

Lost super consolidation

It’s possible for employees to lose track of some of their super. This typically happens when they change their job or address. As an employer, you can provide the resources to help workers find their lost super, consolidate it with the rest of their contributions, and identify which account they want their future contributions to go to. 

How this supports financial wellbeing: 

Employees can save money by consolidating their super into one account. Having multiple accounts can accumulate fees, not to mention that having multiple sources of contributions can be difficult to manage. 

Life insurance

The purpose of life insurance is to offer protection to employees and their loved ones in case of an unexpected life event. There are different life insurance products they can choose from that protect them from different types of events – whether that’s a death, a terminal illness diagnosis, or a bad accident. 

How this supports financial wellbeing: 

This is a wonderful initiative for employers to introduce because it gives workers peace of mind when it comes to unexpected life events. The last thing an employee wants to worry about after a car accident or diagnosis is to have to worry about finances, and life insurance is a great safeguard against that. 

There are many effective initiatives that can increase your employees’ levels of financial wellness and – as a result – their overall wellbeing. Simply start with a few of the ideas that stood out to you in this post and go from there. 

If you have any employees who are in need of support, be sure to check out Wellness@Work, a free hub designed to support HR and Australian workers by giving them access to free content.

If you’re looking for an additional HR software to support your business, Flare offers a free onboarding software with employee management and benefits. To learn more, please request a demo.

The top four benefits employees are demanding in 2023

In today’s highly competitive job market, a comprehensive benefits package is one of the most powerful ways you can set your business apart from others. Finding out what the most popular benefits are, what your competitors offer, and most importantly, what your own employees need, is key. We look at some of the current trends in employee benefits in 2023 and how you can tailor a package to attract the best people to your team and keep them there for longer.

Why do employee benefits matter? 

The tight labour market is posing a major talent acquisition challenge for HR leaders and business owners in 2023.

For employees, rising mortgages, escalating rents, higher grocery bills and the increased cost of running a car are top of mind. Being part of a healthy workplace culture, and having access to flexible and remote work and meaningful wellbeing programs are equally pressing concerns.

Unfortunately, as an employer, managing a business during tough economic times can involve cutting expenditure and operating under a tighter budget. This means that you need to “do more with less” and come up with innovative and affordable ways to meet employee needs that go beyond simply increasing pay.

Benefits like salary packaging, car leases, goods and services discounts and access to financial and health-related wellbeing programs can go a long way to provide employees with a way to ease economic burdens and improve their lifestyles.

What benefits are job-seekers and employees looking for in 2023? 

We look at a range of benefits that are sought after by employees, are easy for you to create and administer, and come at little or no added cost to your business.

1. Salary packaging

Salary packaging or salary sacrificing gives your employees access to phones, motor vehicles, work related insurances, entertainment, portable electronic devices, self-education and retail discounts (to name just a few potential benefits) by way of a pre-tax deduction.

Research shows that the demand for salary packaging is on the rise. In fact, when EY and Flare surveyed 7,000 Aussie workers, they found that three quarters would take up a financial benefit like salary packaging if it was offered. 

Owning a car is one of Australians’ biggest household expenses, and offering a car salary packaging benefit through a novated lease gives your employees a way to free up disposable income without costing your business. 

With fuel, registration, insurance, and maintenance included, car salary packaging offers a cost-effective way for employees to finance their vehicles and manage ongoing expenses with pre-tax dollars and lessen their tax liability as a result. 

On average, Flare leaseholders have saved a substantial sum of $6,000 a year in tax and car running costs*. An added benefit is that they can choose a car to suit their budget, whether it’s new, used or one of the latest models of hybrid or electric vehicles (EVs).

As Flare customer Healius has found, novated leasing can also give staff a compelling reason to join or stay with you. The business is currently experiencing a retention rate of 98% for employees with a Flare novated lease as part of their salary package.  

2. Discount and wellbeing employee benefits

Discounts on products and services, especially ones that your employees already regularly buy, can help with weekly shopping budgets and make their pay packets go further.

An employee discount scheme isn’t only a welcome money saver for your staff, but it also allows you to provide valuable benefits without having to shoulder additional costs or pay anything out-of-pocket.

Flare offers a free benefits and perks platform for your entire workforce, giving them access to cheaper groceries and petrol, clothing and electronics, and entertainment and leisure activities from a whole host of Aussie retailers and wellbeing brands.

3. Remote access to employee benefits 

Pandemic-related pressures have led to a very different way of working in 2023 with more and more Australians joining the ranks of hybrid, remote, or geographically flexible employees.

Importantly, how you make benefits available in these circumstances can affect the success of your program. Customised mobile and app-based HR solutions are saving the day by giving workers flexible options whether they’re in the office or away from it.

Skout Solutions is one employer using the Flare app to engage a diverse team that’s constantly on the go. “You can always put out an email with information about your benefits package, but our teams are often on the move, so we needed to find a way to make the information available at employees’ fingertips,” says Jac Dircks, Operational Analyst at Skout Solutions.

“I get a lot of positive feedback about the discounts and rewards that are available. Keeping the cost of living down by having a discount on everyday items makes a big difference for staff in the long run,” she adds.

4. Personalised employee benefits

Programs that offer only a few core benefits with limited appeal are being replaced with ones that provide a more aware, multigenerational workforce with truly useful and meaningful options.

In fact, the best perks packages that you can offer your employees should be designed with personalisation in mind and based on the unique wants and needs of a diverse employee pool.

Flare’s free benefit solution gives your employees choice with hundreds of discounts at over 9,000 locations across Australia and pre-tax savings on salary packaging, so there’s something of value for everyone.

Businesses can even add their own benefits to the app and employers like Skout Solutions have customised further by adding specific benefits like leave, EAP and events.

How to use benefits to attract and retain top talent

Forward-thinking recruitment and retention strategies are essential as job seekers continue to have leverage in a tight job market. 

A comprehensive benefits package can be one of the best and most cost-effective strategies to position yourself as an employer of choice and provide your employees with options they will value.

Learn more about how Flare can give you the edge in attracting and retaining top talent to your team through personalised and meaningful salary and benefits packages.

Beat burnout: How Two HR professionals bounced back better

Hareta McMullin was a senior HR manager when the ‘perfect storm’ of unmet resource needs pushed her to burnout. Shelley Johnson was back from parental leave, working full time and studying for her master’s degree – she hit a wall. Both returned from burnout crises to help transform the companies they were part of. Here’s what they did to beat burnout.

At a glance
  • Ensure managers have frequent one-on-ones with employees and upskill them to identify the signs of burnout.
  • Provide autonomy and offer flexible work options so your employees have the space to operate on their own terms.
  • A culture of trust and psychological safety is necessary to prevent burnout.
  • Find out what your employees want and need before crafting your wellbeing strategy.
  • Wellbeing is about more than health, Financial education and benefits can help your employees develop skills and resilience.

Hareta McMullin was working as a senior HR manager in the tech industry when the ‘perfect  storm’ of unmet resource needs pushed her to burnout. 

“My boss had gone on parental leave, and we weren’t replacing her,” she says. “Then my colleague went on maternity leave and another resigned.” 

Between managing multiple employee relations cases, covering all bases in her team and recruiting to fill the gaps, as well as collaborating with colleagues in international time zones, Hareta found herself working 12-16 hour days.

She hit rock bottom. 

“After I cried for the 10th consecutive day, I realised I had to reprioritise and restructure what I was doing,” she says.

Hareta went one step further by leveraging her story to bring about organisational change, beginning with ending the glorification of overwork.

While the organisational culture had never enforced clock-watching, long hours were par for the course – partly as a way of managing the challenge of collaborating across time zones.

Change, says Hareta, started with education about the negative health impact of working long hours over a long period of time. 

Managers were trained to keep their expectations in check, maintain frequent one-on-one meetings and look for signs of burnout.

The organisation also made it easier for employees to access support by simplifying the process for flexible work requests, such as condensing hours into four days a week, going part-time or job sharing.

“People would go to their line managers and, if the request was simple, [the line manager] was empowered to approve it,” she says. 

When employees did put in long hours, managers could reward them with unofficial days off – a move that can help to shift the way an organisation and its people think of long hours from the norm to an uncommon necessity in particular periods.

We would send a note out to managers to say, 'This is going on, this is why it's great. Talk about it with the teams in your next one-on-one'.
Hareta McMullin

The treatment of sick leave also changed. 

“We repositioned the language to call it personal leave,” says Hareta. “It’s a small tweak, but psychologically it made a big difference because you didn’t have to be physically sick to take it. You could just be tired after a big week.”

The impact of the cultural shift was clear. Employee survey data showed an increase in engagement, health and wellbeing, and staff turnover dropped below 7%.

Co-designing your wellbeing strategy

Along with survey insights, organisation-wide focus groups were used to learn more about the challenges employees were facing and the benefits they would like to see. 

“We used that information to look at what was realistic, and what we could implement and grow from there,” says Hareta.

This meant the buy-in rates were strong, with benefits such as massages and running clubs actually being utilised. Education sessions to improve financial wellbeing were also a hit, particularly related to investment, mortgages and superannuation.

Whenever a new event or benefit was introduced, the organisation made sure to spread the word. 

“We would send a note out to managers to say, ‘This is going on, this is why it’s great. Talk about it with the teams in your next one-on-one,” she says.

Bouncing back with benefits

When Shelley Johnson’s first child was five months old, she went back to work full-time as an HR manager at a not-for-profit while doing her master’s degree.

After a year of disrupted sleep, new-mum duties, full-time work and study, she hit a wall.

“I was running a staff meeting for more than 100 people when I hopped down offstage and realised I was not okay,” she says. “I left work within an hour and had three months off.”

When she was ready to go back to work, Shelley eased back into her role by working part-time and gradually building up her days from there.

She credits her manager’s support and the organisation’s wellbeing program for her recovery, which included sessions with a psychologist through the Employee Assistance Program.

“They also got me a coach who dealt specifically with burnout to help me rebuild resilience,” she says.

Learning how to set boundaries

The key to preventing burnout from happening in the first place is a culture of trust and psychological safety. 

“Without that, it’s very difficult for any employee to feel like they can have conversations about their health,” says Shelley, who has since founded her own HR consultancy and Boldside Consulting and hosts the podcast My Millenial Career

Psychological safety can be assessed through both risk assessment tools and anecdotally. For example, leaders can pay attention to how open team members are in conversations and identify any topics that might be off-limits.

“It starts with conversations to help people identify within themselves and others what they look like in their healthy zone,” says Shelley. “If I’m getting irritable, fatigued or tired, I want to be able to raise that with my boss, so I can make sure that I’m coming back into alignment with what healthy looks like.”

When you go through burnout, you feel like you’ve had a loss of control because all of a sudden your body checks out. So it’s important to give people autonomy over where they work, as well as their work hours and schedules.
Shelley Johnson

Helping your team set boundaries is also key. This is often a tricky area for employees to navigate, particularly if they are new and feel like they haven’t built up enough equity yet.

To overcome any awkwardness, Shelley recommends a team brainstorming exercise. The conversation should start by agreeing on expectations, such as not needing to respond instantly to every email, then explore people’s personal boundaries.

“For example, one of my team members would say, ‘When I’ve got my headphones in, I really don’t want you to interrupt me because I’m in my deep work mode’,” she says.

Shelley also recommends steering clear of mandates in teams, allowing people to buy in on principles rather than policy. This might mean allowing an employee to work from home on a day the team usually convenes if they’re feeling flat. Granting autonomy is particularly important in both preventing and recovering from burnout, she emphasises. 

“When you go through burnout, you feel like you’ve had a loss of control because all of a sudden your body checks out,” says Shelley. “So it’s important to give people autonomy over where they work, as well as their work hours and schedules.” 

Engaging a mentor can also be helpful. You could encourage employees to participate in the organisation’s structured mentoring program or to pursue their own mentor.

“Having someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in your performance can give you insight into things that might help you in your whole life, not just at work,” says Shelley.

For more guidance on upskilling managers, giving employees autonomy and identifying your team’s wellbeing needs, download the ebook: The race for talent: How to protect your teams from burnout.

Engage your workforce with inclusive benefits for contractors

Traditionally benefits offered in the workplace like novated leases haven’t been on the table for individuals like Neil Creasey, a contractor. However, the workforce composition is changing. Now employers are embracing a blended workforce that consists of both contract workers alongside permanent talent. 

To engage an entire workforce, benefits like car salary packaging are opening up to eligible contract hires as a way to drive optimum engagement and retention, regardless of the hire classification.

Neil, a Transformation Director and contractor through Oncore Services, bought a second-hand Subaru BRZ through a novated lease arrangement with Flare and Oncore. 

Neil came across this through a monthly newsletter sent by his employer, Oncore. “As soon as I saw the offer, I snapped it up. I thought it was incredibly innovative. Being a long-term contractor, I have seen permanent employees in businesses enjoy these sorts of benefits but never contractors. However, there is such a huge contract labour force in Australia, I think it presents a great opportunity for employers who are willing to consider offering these benefits to contractors too,” says Neil. 

Removing barriers

One of the most common barriers for employers is admin hassle. There is a misconception that novated leasing requires lots of paperwork, and tireless hours will be spent on the management of salary deductions, budget reconciliation, and dealing with Fringe Benefit Tax. 

Josh Loy, Account Director at Flare, says “novated leases should be hassle free for both the employer and the employee. Flare’s digital-led process eliminates paperwork, simplifies salary deductions, and ensures a smooth process from the drivers first interaction, to the final day of their lease.”

Phil Mulvey, Business Development Manager at Oncore has been impressed by how simple the process is. “Providing novated leases to our contract workforce, via Flare, has been simple. It is a great addition that complements our current salary packaging services.”

For employees, the most common concern has been how payment transfers occur should they transition to a new contract or employer.

“Should a contractor decide to move on or if their contract comes to an end, they have a few options. They can transfer the novated lease across to their new employer. If their employer chooses not to support the benefit, that is ok, the contractor will make payments directly to the financier or payout the remaining finance, in full. There is a lot of flexibility. The employer also carries no liability, once the employee leaves then the car goes with them,” clarifies Josh.

Driving engagement

With the rise of contracting, attracting and retaining high quality contractors is an important consideration for a lot of businesses that rely on this model. Businesses need to adopt and deploy engagement strategies that appeal to this group. 

“At Oncore, salary packaging is a key pillar of the remuneration strategy for our contractors, and we are seeing a higher take up of novated leases,” says Phil.

To contractors like Neil, offering a novated lease can be a unique way for employers to stand out. “You go where the work is but if there is a choice between an employer that offers novated leasing and benefits to a contractor versus one that does not, that would certainly weigh your choice.” 

“Obviously it is down to the individual and what they value but for me, as someone who has contracted for 20 years and has had limited options to purchase and finance vehicles in the past, there is definitely an advantage to choosing an employer who offers this,” reinforces Neil. 

For forward-thinking employers who want to provide inclusive benefits to attract and retain their contract workforce, novated leasing can offer significant savings and a strong retention hook.

Speak to Flare today to discuss salary packaging and benefits for all employees.

What makes a contractor eligble for a novated lease with Flare?

Full-time, fixed-term contractors with continuity of income. Consistent proof of income for 9+ months.

Financial wellbeing – an often overlooked employee benefit

Financial wellbeing is becoming an increasingly urgent and important conversation for employers who want to hold on to top talent and attract the best. Financial wellness is an often-overlooked opportunity to stand out with your employer brand and offer meaningful support.

With wallets tightening across Australia due to cost-of-living increases, we are feeling the real impact of financial stress. This is compounded by economic uncertainty like property downturns, volatile investment markets, and the continuing impact of Covid.

A recent study found that the number of Australian workers under severe financial stress has doubled since 2020 with rising inflation and interest rates putting nearly 1 million people under severe pressure and another 2 million under moderate stress1

Also uncovered through EY and Flare research, ‘Pay in the New Economy’, seven in ten Australians are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with less than $5,000 in savings, and an inability to meet their financial needs in an emergency.

Financial stress carries over into the workplace

Financial wellbeing is an integral part of holistic wellbeing. It can impact both our mental and physical health. When people are in vulnerable financial positions, financial worries can carry over into their work too, impacting their performance.

Stress can contribute to burnout and consume an employee’s emotional bandwidth, and in doing so means that they aren’t at an optimal capacity to appropriately respond to tasks and contribute to the culture of the workplace.

To cope with financial stress, EY and Flare research showed that one in ten Australian employees have chosen to take time off from work. Moreover, these employees have taken an average of eight days off per year to deal with issues regarding financial stress. 

For employers, there are very real implications to stress in the workplace — directly or indirectly related to work. It is estimated that stress-related issues cost the Australian economy as much as AU$15b per year, with direct costs to employers’ worth approximately AU$10b through absenteeism or presenteeism. 

Financial wellbeing is much more than a salary

Having a comprehensive remuneration strategy or a ‘package’ that includes financial wellness offerings can set your employer brand apart. This encompasses pay, salary packaging, insurances, Superannuation, discount incentives such as perks, mental health support, wellness and lifestyle benefits, and financial support and education. 

There are also innovative new benefits like On-Demand Pay that give employers an edge in providing impactful and immediate relief to employees experiencing financial stress.

On-Demand Pay offers employees control and flexibility over access to their earned pay, without charging interest. It can help reduce reliance on high-cost debt products and offer vital support when delivered as part of a suite of financial wellness benefits.

Offering financial wellness as a pillar of your EVP

EY and Flare research highlights that employees are now demanding greater control over their pay and benefits. 55% report COVID-19 lockdowns have changed what they expect from an employer. 

Given the impact of stress on productivity, engagement, and wellbeing, financial wellness should be a consideration on the wellbeing agenda for any business. 

As financial pressures mount on employees, forward-thinking employers have an opportunity to uniquely position their employer brand in response to attracting and engaging talent.

1 AMP’s 2022 Financial Wellness report

For more tips on how to build a financial wellbeing program, download the Flare guide: How to support your employees financial wellbeing.

5 tips to run a financial education program in your workplace

Steph Gillon is a former financial adviser and passionate advocate for financial literacy. Steph also heads up Financial Wellbeing at Flare, helping businesses promote financial wellbeing in their workplace. Stephanie shares some of her insights into running a financial literacy program.

Financial stress can contribute to burnout and carry over into the workplace, impacting performance and productivity. To cope with financial stress, EY and Flare research showed that one in ten Australian employees have chosen to take time off from work. Moreover, these employees have taken an average of eight days off per year to deal with issues regarding financial stress. 

Offering financial education as part of your overall wellbeing program is one way that you help to reduce financial stress and its impact on your business. It can also help your Employee Value Proposition stand out by offering tangible value to employees. Here are five ways to get started.

Create awareness

“People have a real fear of being ‘caught out’ when it comes to money. A lot of people will bury their heads in the sand and ignore issues. Creating awareness around the problem, and showing people that they aren’t alone, goes a long way to help normalise conversations about financial stress and money management,” Stephanie points out. 
“We know based on the insights from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamic (HILDA) study, statistically, almost half the population are financially illiterate. Programs should start with the assumption that there is very little financial awareness, and your job is to help build those blocks,” says Stephanie. 
“For those who are experiencing hardship, it’s an excellent idea to provide links to where they can get assistance. That could be a service that you provide like financial counselling through your employee assistance program, or independent third parties. The government offers several free services like the National Debt Helpline,” highlights Stephanie.

Consider the fundamentals

“There will be varying degrees of knowledge and skills around financial concepts. Saving, budgeting, spending behaviours, attitudes to money, goal setting, paying down debt and investing – these topics underpin a sound financial strategy. This is a great place to start,” says Stephanie.
“I like to go deep into these topics. I use quizzes, examples, and case studies to illustrate meaning.
I also provide tips about easy ways to positively change behaviour, like automating savings or tracking how you spend. I break down complex financial concepts into bite-size and easy-to-digest soundbites. I want people to walk away from a session feeling empowered, not inadequate. The content should be relatable, easy-to-grasp, and engaging,” advises Stephanie.

Encourage participation

“Once you have built out a baseline program, think about the perfect way to package that up to your employees. Could you brand this like ‘financial bootcamp’ and build a monthly campaign around it that leverages calendar dates and seasonality? We all know that Christmas is a tight period for a lot of people, so the lead up may be an ideal time to promote budgeting for big events, for example.
What is critical is that you set-up a program of activity or a calendar and make a commitment to providing great content and experiences regularly to engage employees with their financial wellbeing. Otherwise, you risk losing momentum,” explains Stephanie.
“Engaging a remote or dispersed workforce can also prove challenging when you are relying on an email address or an intranet to engage them. They want to access content where and when it suits them. That’s why Flare offers financial education through an app platform. This approach is much more aligned with content consumption patterns these days,” says Stephanie.

Meet needs without compliance risk

“For many employers, providing financial education and support to employees can feel risky due to compliance and privacy concerns. Advice around financial products is highly regulated in Australia and falls into two buckets, general and personal advice. General advice does not consider any personal circumstances and is general in nature. Personal advice is more specific and is tailored to the individual’s personal situation. Both require licences to provide advice,” Stephanie points out.
“The fines imposed on unlicensed financial advice are significant. Financial advice must only be provided by qualified and licensed financial advisers or financial counsellors, not by individuals or corporations who neither hold an AFS licence, nor are authorised representatives of an AFS licensee. It can be a criminal offence and result in jail time of up to five years and fines of up to $133.200 for individuals. For corporations the penalties are up to $1.33 million1,” warns Stephanie.

Explore resources available to support you

“Many businesses just don’t have the time, resources or expertise to support a financial education program,” states Stephanie. “If this is the case, there are partners available that you can lean on to help roll out your education. Flare, for example, offers financial wellbeing content through our free Flare app.”
“This helps us to scale education, meaning that we can support reach by making this information easily accessible and in the palm of your employees’ hands, at their convenience. Through this, we address several topics that we know are central to financial wellness, like money mindset and behaviours,” says Stephanie.

This is an excerpt from the Flare guide: How to support your employees’ financial wellbeing. Download a free copy today for more tips on a successful wellbeing program.

4 things to avoid when designing your wellbeing program

Janine Fry, Vice President of Customer experience at Flare, speaks to businesses and HR leaders across the country about their wellbeing programs daily. In her role, Janine helps them successfully implement and launch their benefits and wellbeing offering. She shares some of the most typical problems that are heard from clients as to why programs have failed in the past, as well as tips on what to avoid.


“Companies need wellbeing programs that address holistic health: physical, mental, financial, and social. In the past, wellbeing programs have been focused on physical wellness like discounted access to gyms and step competitions. While those types of things are still important, it’s now widely acknowledged that programs need to respond to holistic health. Companies that are winning in this space have evolved their view of wellbeing,” says Janine.

Lives and dies on the intranet

“The workforce is becoming more flexible. People want to engage where and when it suits them, so access is key,” says Janine.
“It’s critical that wellbeing programs are engaged with and utilised, regularly. If they are sitting on a static intranet, then they risk going unnoticed and unused. One of the ways we have addressed this at Flare is by creating both a desktop and app experience that connects workers with their benefits anytime, and anywhere. It’s promoted to them during onboarding,” she adds.

Benefits miss the mark

“Offering compelling benefits is one way to differentiate your business with new and existing employees, especially in this competitive wage environment,” Janine points out.
“We think of the employee experience as a journey from start to retain,” says Janine. “Non-wage compensation like perks, salary packaging, and wellbeing support and experiences, alongside mandatory benefits like Super and policies, create a complete offering to employees. We know that this combination is difficult for businesses to execute and manage on their own. There are so many considerations. Flare’s benefits solution helps take the pain out by packaging all these elements together to support businesses to engage their workers with their wellbeing.”

One hit wonder

“One of the most disheartening aspects of a failed wellbeing program is seeing all that hard work not add up to engagement. Influencing up, building a program and communicating it to employees takes effort, time and resources. Sometimes it’s difficult to sustain this investment over a long period. Really, you need that commitment, cultural alignment and advocacy to support the program ongoing,” admits Janine.
“At Flare, we have focussed on removing frictions from delivering and managing wellbeing programs. We offer the benefits, the products, the platform and the engagement program. We also empower businesses to have a level of control over that experience by embedding their wellbeing agenda,” says Janine.

This is an excerpt from our Flare guide: How to design a wellbeing program. Download a free copy today for more tips on a successful wellbeing program.

What is unconscious bias, and why does it matter in the workplace?

Most people say they would never judge a person by how they look, their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or age. But according to social psychologists at the University of Washington and Yale, 90-95% of people judge people unconsciously. This is known as unconscious bias.

What is unconscious bias?

Unconscious bias are thoughts or feelings we’re not directly aware of, that influence our judgement. They are the attitudes and stereotypes that affect our views, our actions, and our decision-making ability, which we’ve unconsciously created from our own background and experiences. It happens automatically, and is triggered by our brain making quick judgements and opinions of people and situations.

Why do we have unconscious bias?

Everyone has biases, whether we’re aware of them or not. It’s a fundamental aspect of being human. Scientists believe that these quick judgements and decisions can help us navigate the world without being overwhelmed, because the unconscious mind can process more information than our conscious minds. However, the downside of this is that prejudice occurs during important decisions such as recruitment, healthcare and criminal justice which can disadvantage people.

Why does unconscious bias matter in the workplace?

When unconscious bias is present in the workplace it can drive negative impact in the following ways:

  • talented people are left out of your workforce, or not allowed equal opportunity for development and career progression
  • diverse voices aren’t heard in meetings and decisions can be impaired
  • culture is not genuinely demonstrating inclusive workplace principles
  • employees are not able to fully contribute to your organisation
  • creativity and productivity of your team or organisation may be compromised.

Common types of bias at work

Introductions and first impressions

Foundations for first impressions come from our own experiences and sense of the world — what’s familiar to us. Our reactions to someone we don’t know may be positive, negative, or neutral depending on what’s visible or audible about them; depending on their race, perceived sexual orientation, accent or a number of other characteristics.

First impressions are powerful. We need to be aware of the impact that has on the assessment you have when you first meet them.

Stereotypes and performance bias

Performance bias occurs when people who are part of dominant groups, such as being white or male, are judged by their expected potential, while those who are part of less dominant groups such as people of colour or women are judged by their proven accomplishments.

Heidi vs Howard: Gender bias in success and likeability

In 2003 Frank Flinn, a Columbia Business School Professor and NYU Cameron Anderson ran an experiment to test perceptions of men and women in the workplace.

They started with a Harvard Business School case study about a real-life entrepreneur named Heidi Rosin. The case described how Heidi became a venture capitalist using her outgoing personality, and vast personal and professional network, that included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector.

They gave the case study to two classes of students. One class read Heidi’s story and the other class read the same story but with one difference, they changed the name from Heidi to Howard. Then, they polled the students.

Students rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent, which made sense because their accomplishments were identical. Yet while students respected Heidi and Howard, Howard came across a more “appealing colleague” Heidi, on the other hand was seen as “selfish” and not the type of person you want to hire or work for.

The same data, with a single difference: Gender, created vastly different impressions. This experiment supports what research already has clearly shown which is that success and likeability are positively correlated for men, and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less. 

Women are expected to be nurturing and care-taking, while men are expected to be assertive and action-oriented. Having to produce results and be liked makes it harder for women to get hired and promoted, negotiate on their own behalf, and exhibit leadership.

What can you do in your team, or at work?

  1. Become mindful of your own unconscious bias and reflect on it.
  2. Take the Harvard Implicit Assessment Test to see what your unconscious biases are.
  3. Call out unconscious bias when you see it. If we can create an environment where we recognise bias, we can improve together.
  4. Standardise processes like hiring by building a grading criteria, asking the same questions to candidates and setting the same tests.
  5. During the hiring process, get managers to speak last. A manager’s perspective can influence a team’s input. See what more ideas can arise, if a manager listens and speaks last.

5 practices to build a strong workplace culture from the Best Places to Work winners

Every year, a research institute called Great Place to Work Australia compiles a list of organisations that are considered to have the most desirable company cultures. This ranking is based on surveys of nearly 40,000 Australian employees, as well as an evaluation of the employers’ policies and procedures.

According to the research institute, a great place to work can be defined as one “where you trust the people you work with, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with.” But what exactly does this mean? We took a closer look at what these top-notch companies are doing to keep their employees happy and identified four best practices that you can put into action with your own workforce. 

5 Best practices to build a strong workplace culture 

Drawing inspiration from the 2020 Best Places To Work list, we’ve pulled out some of the best practices that these companies use to strengthen their workplace culture.

1. Take a purpose-driven approach to business  

Purpose-driven organisations have clearly identified their reasons for existing – beyond just their profits, products, and services. And this purpose is infused into every aspect of their business, from the employee experience to the business strategy. These are the types of companies that people increasingly want to work for – especially Millennials, with 84% of this demographic believing that making a difference is more important than professional recognition.

This is a lesson that Interactive embodies well, and is the first step on Interactive’s five pillar wellbeing strategy, which is likely why it’s ranked first in this year’s Best Places To Work list. Director of People and Culture at InteractiveMerylee Crockett shares the other pillars on her list:

  1. Start with purpose – A commitment to keeping your why at the core of every decision you make.
  2. Safety – A commitment to keeping each other safe and investing in the physical and psychological wellbeing of our people.
  3. Connection – A commitment to a connected and collaborative workplace.
  4. Health – A commitment to nurturing your physical, mental and financial health.
  5. Resilience – A commitment to learn from any adversity thrown your way. 

At Interactive, building a resilient culture requires an integrated approach across all five pillars to succeed. Leaning on these pillars has allowed the workforce to stay resilient together by coping with adversity, continuing to build and adapt, and learning from their experiences.

2. Make your leaders accessible to employees 

Employees want to hear from their leadership team regularly – especially during times like today when circumstances are constantly changing. In fact, this type of engagement is so important that 91% of employees say communication issues can drag executives down.

That’s likely why IT service provider Insentra, which has featured on the Best Places To Work list for five years running, is focused on opening up communication channels between its executive team and the rest of the organisation – especially after going fully remote during COVID-19. Insentra’s co-founder and CEO, Ronnie Altit, explains that he’s been making a more conscious effort to engage in conversations with employees across all levels – even if that’s just sending them a quick message to say hello.

He’s also trying to make himself as accessible by hosting weekly team calls that provide employees with an opportunity to ask questions, engage in conversations, or simply provide an update on how things are going across the rest of the organisation.

3. Care personally 

One of the most common themes we identified on Australia’s 2020 Best Places To Work list is the importance of caring personally. In response to the global pandemic, employers have stepped up to provide their teams with the resources and support they need to stay healthy, productive, and optimistic during these challenging times. 

For example, Terlya Hunt the People Experience Manager at SafetyCulture went above and beyond to keep their employee as happy and healthy as possible during the pandemic. The company launched a new EAP to help employees build mental fitness, provided education on how to hold space for vulnerable conversations, and set weekly themes for Mental Health Month in October to cover all aspects of wellness – such as  finances and nutrition. 

4. Listen to what your employees have to say

Companies with strong cultures always listen to what their employees have to say. Many times, HR teams and company leaders make assumptions about what their workforce wants – and it’s not always aligned with reality. To prevent this from happening, use tools like pulse checks and surveys to collect feedback from your employees. 

These types of listening strategies are a huge part of what sets the best companies apart from the rest. SAP Australia, which is on the 2020 list for Best Places To Work, released a remote ‘pulse check’ this year so that their employees could regularly share how they’re feeling and what management could do to support them. Similarly, Insentra has been continuously surveying its workforce to identify any communication gaps.

5. Build a culture of resilience 

Lucy Horne, a researcher from New Zealand, defines resilience as a trait that allows people to adapt to and learn from adversity. During the pandemic, HR analysts like Josh Bersin have been stressing the importance of building resilient organisations, cultures, and people. Not only does this allow companies to survive tough times, but it’s also integral to the wellbeing of employees.

Lucy Lithgow the General Manager of People and Culture at BPAY set up a various initiatives across her organisation to give her staff more autonomy and trust because this is something she believes is key in driving a resilient culture. During this time, BPAY went from a good employee engagement rate to a 92% engagement rate this year. Some of the initiatives Lucy implemented includes: removing the requirement for employees produce a medical certificate if need the day off, removing the company dress code and finally allowing all employees to be given access to the recognition budget so that they can now recognise and reward a colleague or a peer for going above and beyond. These things have really helped BPAY foster a resilient culture.

There’s so much we can learn from these inspiring companies and their HR teams – especially today, when workplace culture is more critical than ever before. Take these learnings from the organisations featured on the  Best Places To Work list and put them into practice today. To learn how Flare HR’s free onboarding software and employee benefits can strengthen your company culture, request a demo.

Every year, a research institute called Great Place to Work Australia compiles a list of organisations that are considered to have the most desirable company cultures. This ranking is based on surveys of nearly 40,000 Australian employees, as well as an evaluation of the employers’ policies and procedures. According to the research institute, a great place to […]