Building a Financially Inclusive Workplace Culture



The conversation surrounding financial literacy is expanding as the overwhelming majority of workers (77%) are interested in employer provided financial wellness programs, Harvard Business Review reports. Unfortunately, despite this growing demand, just over a quarter (28%) of U.S. employers offer such programs1. Further, rising costs associated with these benefits means widespread adoption is likely to be a slow process. That said, there are steps leaders can take now to improve the financial wellbeing of their teams and colleagues that have little to do with company money and everything to do with company culture.  

Take the tab out of team building. Scheduling social events to encourage team building is a staple of office culture. However, expecting your colleagues to show up for Karaoke or Bocce ball at non-company sponsored events means everyone typically must foot their own bill. Leaders can remove the financial obstacle of these events by scheduling team building activities in settings where money is a non-issue. For instance, Wellable suggests organizing local group walks or hikes as a team building exercise that is not only free but boosts overall well-being2. Just be sure that whatever activities you plan, they do not require long-distance travel and are accessible to all of your colleagues, including those with lowered mobility or disabilities.  

Avoid frequent off-campus team lunches. Not all of your colleagues enjoy the same level of financial stability. Inviting team members out to lunch might seem like a great way to break up the day and foster connection, but it is also a great way to alienate employees who may be struggling with financial hardship. In fact, this issue is so pervasive in office culture that it frequently comes up in chat forums like Reddit and news articles on sites like Inc and Forbes. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to gather the team for lunch, insisting on eating out regularly throughout the week, or even month, can create an environment of financial peer pressure. Especially when declining such offers are frowned upon as exhibiting antisocial behaviors and can lead to alienation. Avoid this trap by limiting how often you suggest the team go out for lunch. Consider, instead, hosting lunches in your office where team members can bring their own food or by organizing small potlucks where everyone brings a dish as a fun, financially inclusive alternative. 

Embrace loud budgeting. Traditionally, discussing personal financial situations at work, or any social setting, is the height of taboo. Coined by TikTok creator Luka Battle, loud budgeting challenges individuals and professionals of the modern era to embrace transparency and erase the stigma associated with disclosing such information. Especially when, for example, your team invites you out after work for a round of drinks your budget simply cannot support. If your employees are loud budgeting, make a point to be supportive and suggest alternatives rather than deferring to tradition. 

What are some ways your office culture supports financial well-being? Log in to MICPA Connect to share your experiences on how to make your workplace culture more financially inclusive.  

  1. Thakor, Mnaisha. “It’s time to Prioritize Employees’ Financial Health.” Harvard Business Review. 2 Jan. 2024. Accessed on 8 Mar. 2024.

  2. 30 Holistic Wellness Activities for the Workplace.” Wellable. 14 Jul. 2023. Accessed on 8 Mar. 2024. 

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