It is important to be aware that you may need to provide a range of financial wellbeing approaches in order to ensure that all of your staff have access to the support they need in a way which is relevant and culturally appropriate for them.
An example, for the Islamic faith any interest-based saving accounts, loans or credit may not be appropriate. As such, Islamic Finance is based on a model of mutual gain and mutual loss. For Muslim staff going through tough times, they have access to a fund called Zakat, which is a 2.5% levy on all financially able Muslims to support those struggling to make ends meet. The National Zakat Foundation is one of the bodies responsible for collecting and distributing zakat. Those that are eligible for zakat are then provided a monthly stipend or money towards their day-to-day living costs.
Those not eligible or not Muslim may still get financial help from the National Zakat Foundation, but not from zakat donations. Rather these will be from charitable donations which the community may make on top of this 2.5% levy.
Another example are “Rotating Savings and Credit Associations”. These are collective schemes which allow trusted friends and communities to save together and have been popular in Caribbean and African communities for many years. Often called pardner, pardna or paadna schemes (Caribbean) or esusu, susu or sou-sou (African), they are not regulated in the way banks and formal lenders are, but those who use them say they encourage a certain level of savings discipline, incentivised through the social aspect. The ‘banker’ is normally a trusted member of the community and the act of individuals meeting weekly to deliver ‘their hand’ (or contribution) face-to-face and receive weekly payments is a social one, where members of the community can meet and socialise.
The important thing to note is that staff from all cultures and backgrounds take a different approach to managing savings, debt and credit. If staff open up and discuss their private and financial challenges, its essential managers refrain from making assumptions about the next steps for them. Different cultures have different approaches to money management and the coping mechanisms will vary in relation to financial savings, debt or credit.