Ask Muriel Siebert
Q Most of my employees live paycheck to paycheck. How can I encourage them to save?
You have an opportunity to create something very exciting at your company. By teaching your employees how to manage and save their money, you can literally change their lives. And that's a nice feeling.
Before your staffers can save money, they may need to learn the basics. Interview your workers to determine how much help they need. You may be surprised by what you learn. When I served as New York State superintendent of banks from 1977 to 1982, I was alarmed to discover that many of my constituents used check-cashing services. If that's an issue for your employees, ask a bank to offer them free checking accounts in return for your company's business. Then set up a direct deposit system. Most banks have educational material that you can distribute to your staff; some will even hold afterwork seminars on banking basics at your office. When you approach the bank, keep in mind that state and federal governments encourage banks to meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income members of the community. That record is taken into account when the government considers requests for new bank branches. In other words, it's in the bank's best interest to help.
After the groundwork is laid, give your staffers goals to work toward. For example, hold a lunchtime session about mortgages--again, this is something the bank may do--to get them interested in saving for homes. Encourage them to open savings accounts and watch their money grow. Make it exciting.
To get you started, I am sending you a copy of the personal finance curriculum that I developed for high school students. It includes lessons on everything from balancing a checkbook to paying taxes. This year, I plan to roll out a new version for workers like yours; it will be available to any business for free.
Coming Up: Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
Need tips on customer service or growing at your own pace? Ask restaurateur Danny Meyer by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Then look for his answer in the July issue of Inc.