Western University is marking Financial Literacy Month with a series of webinars and consultations addressing employees’ financial questions.

The webinars cover topics such as retirement, estate planning, investments and the connection between health and wealth. While the university has covered the health-wealth connection in previous years, the topic is of perennial interest to employees and is particularly timely amid rising inflation and increasing discussion of mental health in the workplace, says Cara Bourdeau, senior human resources consultant at Western.

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“As an employer and a community, we continue to focus on mental health, so this is a great way to discuss saving for the future while addressing competing financial priorities and stress that employees may be feeling. I think the health and wealth connection is key — we know people are struggling in the current [economic] environment.”

In addition, Western is hosting a series of personal financial consultations — both in-person and virtual — on its defined contribution pension plans. “For a number of years, we’ve looked at recognizing if we can help build broad financial knowledge and capacity that way, then we’ll indirectly influence retirement savings goals by addressing the questions and needs that employees have right now.”

The changing demographics of the university’s workforce also shaped this year’s program, says Bourdeau, noting there’s been an influx of young employees joining the organization in recent years.

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“[In previous years] we found people had trouble determining the right [session] to attend. For example, we offered a session about creating an income from a retirement income fund and we had young employees showing up and it wasn’t the right one for them. This year, we have a learn to invest session, because we have new and younger employees.”

Western also works with its record keeper, as well as with employees and their union, to determine the financial wellness of its workforce and tailor its offerings accordingly, she adds.

“We do a lot of support for employees heading into retirement and [our record keeper] supports a program for retirees. It’s a good indicator of what savings levels employees have, whether they’re able to retire on track or their deciding to work longer because of investment performance or inflation.”

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