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Dunelm builds employee bond and boosts productivity with loan scheme

Leading companies looking at innovative ways to engage employees through helping them manage personal finance issues


Workforce productivity is – rightly – one of the main focus areas for both finance and HR – and the UK is often criticised for its relatively lower productivity levels than other countries. Getting to the heart of why this is the case is complex, but directors are starting to take a broader perspective about how they can help their employees become more productive at work.

One of the main causes of anxiety in today’s workforce is financial distress. High credit card interest rates, payday loans, the chasing of debt collectors and the pressure to “keep up with Joneses” all lead to money worries across the UK workforce. This problem is compounded by the fact that those who can least afford the interest on loans are typically charged the highest amounts – impacting lower paid workers more than ever.

So some leading companies are now starting to look much more proactively at how they can help staff through these money issues – not just with advice – but actually by helping them proactively to reduce the interest rates they are paying on loans. Dunelm – the leading household goods retailer – recently rolled out just such an employee loan programme – where interest payments are deducted directly from salary. As a result interest rates on these loans were reduced to less than 10%.

The reaction from employees (see video here) who participated was significantly positive. Removing the stress and strain of being chased by debt collection agents and paying out significant sums every week in high interest payments not only enabled staff to focus on the job in hand, but also created a stronger bond with employers too who had facilitated this.

According to Wayne Hall, reward manager at Dunelm “SalaryFinance has been a different kind of benefit. We’re quite proud actually and when we listened to our colleagues, this was the sort of benefit that they really wanted”.

SalaryFinance, the company behind the Dunelm scheme, was recently recognised both as one of the most innovative digital companies in the UK as well as one of the most socially responsible British start-ups – an indication that the type of benefit it provides will become a key part of an organisation’s productivity solution.

SalaryFinance has already been implemented by a variety of companies – from multinationals like Ageas, to FTSE-listed firms like Hays and Saga, to national charities like Addaction.

Asesh Sarkar, CEO and co-founder of SalaryFinance, is excited about the future: “we are seeing very high demand across all types of employer who really get that this addressing financial wellbeing is a cost efficient way of engaging staff whilst delivering improvements to productivity. I absolutely love the transformation that SalaryFinance, working with employers, makes to hard working staff.”

SalaryFinance is a part of Blenheim Chalcot, in which Financial Director’s owner Contentive is owned.

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