Work → In Progress: Why 'Financial Wellness' Is Not Just About A Raise
The workplace wellness trend now includes the very practical questions about how, when and how much we get paid, and is shaping up to be the next step in blurring the lines between personal and professional that were once so neatly divided.
We’re approaching the end of Q1 of 2022 and the “wellness” trend that’s usually reserved for millennials’ yoga mats has officially made its way into the professional world. After two years of realizing that job setups don’t always favor employees’ health, the call for sweeping workplace changes — ranging from more medical access to an HR focus on mental well-being — is in full swing.
But wouldn't you know: the latest professional self-care trend carries a notably practical air: financial wellness.
Bank of America’s 2021 Workplace Benefits Report mentioned “financial wellness” 43 times, which it defined as “the type of support employers are offering to address financial needs.” But is making money not the point of work? It seems this new rebranding of how work relates to cash is indicative of how differently we now view employment.
The financial wellness movement doesn’t want companies to just fairly compensate employees but instead to teach them how to manage their salaries, be it saving for retirement, navigating debt or budgeting.
Following in the footsteps of remote work, this trend is shaping up to be the next step in blurring the lines between personal and professional that were once so neatly divided. But it’s just one of many factors at play. From spying on employees’ online activity and rejecting telework to consolidating a labor market by using a common language, this edition of Work → In Progress gives you the good, the bad and the ugly of the latest news in work:
Mere months after China’s Personal Information Protection Law was implemented, controversy stirred when a company found out their employee was searching for other jobs by spying on his internet activity… and fired him. South China Morning Post reports the company allegedly used a system that tracked if an employee had checked job sites, sent applications, and then ranked “employees by the level of perceived resignation risk.” The information, however, was apparently tracked on the company’s own computers. How private is employee data if they’re using their employer’s devices?
While some countries are pulling out all the stops to attract remote workers, others want to put a lid on it. According to French media Welcome To The Jungle, Japanese employee productivity was reported to have dropped 20% due to a corporate culture that favors teamwork. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic remains the only country that hasn’t given telework a legal status, in part due to their strong culture of hierarchy. Angola scored 0 in all of the three criteria used by LGMB Worklabs to assess a location’s “teleworkability”: legal, cultural and technical.
The African Union recently decided to adopt Swahili (known as Kiswahili to native speakers) as an official language recognized for work. According to Actu Cameroun, the language is spoken in 14 countries on a continent that is rapidly drawing international investors. Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia has announced the launch of a Kiswahili language education program. The university’s president explained, “Having a common language has wider importance on the development of culture, politics and economy as well as for the welfare of the society in the region.”
LUCKY NUMBER 4
Following a similar trend to countries like Spain, Iceland and Japan, the Belgian government has approved a plan that will allow workers to choose a 4-day work week and enforces their right not to respond to messages after office hours. According to La Voix Du Nord, the measure still needs to be put before parliament, but its proponents hope these more flexible ways of working will raise the country’s employment rate to 80% by 2030 (currently at 71%).
NO DAYS OFF
Meanwhile, Mexico has some of the shortest legal paid vacation time in the entire world, thanks to a law that hasn’t changed in 50 years. With only 6 days off per year, available only after having completed one year of work at the company, Mexico was deemed as having some of the most precarious work regulations in Latin America by El País México. Yet two reform proposals were presented to parliament early this year, keeping the country in step with the international worklife revolution currently taking place.