Around the world there are different forms of greetings and according to one article ‘How’s it going?’ is the most typical Australian way of saying hello. This is closely followed by ‘How you going?’ ‘How are you going?’ ‘How you doing?’ ‘How are you doing?’ ‘How’s it hanging?’ (not sure I have encountered that last one!)
As a Pom originally, I was brought up with “How are you?” and most British people would reply “Fine thanks, how are you?” even if their leg was hanging off. If you have known someone for a few years, you might dare to confess feeling tired and in need of a holiday, or express surprise that the weather is so hot, cold or wet for the time of year!
As you will be aware, we Poms are famous for our British reserve. For most Brits the things that really are weighing on our minds — relationship problems, a family disagreement or health worries — may be expressed to a close friend. However, talking about our financial fears is a subject that remains very much taboo.
So is it different in Australia? I would argue that there is very little difference. However, we hear repeatedly that our personal debt levels are leading the world and 1 in 3 Australians are in financial stress. Yes, interest rates are at record lows, but wages are stagnating and with business confidence also very low due to global uncertainty, it is hard to see that changing anytime soon. Retirees are struggling with minimal returns on their investments whilst young people struggle to get a foot on the property ladder or pay even their rent.
So do we talk about this financial stress? According to a Westpac survey in March this year, Australian couples generally regarded discussing their finances with support networks as being ‘awkward’. In fact, 49% of respondents felt more comfortable disclosing intimacy issues with their friends, rather than financial issues.
What can be done to help? Well the Banking Royal Commission did recommend more education but that is probably not going make a difference to those in financial stress today, rather hopefully help future generations. We certainly need to do something about the increasing trend of Buy Now, Pay Later and instant gratification!
For adults, employee financial wellbeing needs to recognised as a necessity not a nice to have by employers. The research numbers are there – underlining the high cost to productivity, and therefore profitability, due to employee financial stress.
I am not sure that “It’ll be alright, mate!” is the answer!
For more information on how you can help improve your staff’s financial wellbeing, you may want to check out this page.