In the good old days, companies provided employees with lifetime jobs followed by pensions that paid retirees a predictable and comfortable monthly check.
Those days are gone -- never to return.
Now people are accustomed to a blend of fairly short-term and unstable bouts of full employment followed by a scramble for the next short-term assignment -- possibly punctuated with intermittent freelance gigs with no benefits and no retirement plan.
As an employer, you can't give employees retirement or financial advice. But you could pay to give employees access to licensed financial planners. Whether or not you spring for that benefit, here are seven ways you can help your employees save money in 2017.
1. If you offer employees a 401(k) plan, set the maximum amount of savings as a default
I teach students about how behavioral economics can nudge people to do things that are in their best interests.
One way you can encourage employees to save money is to set the highest possible savings percentage as the default in your employee benefits 401(k) sign-up. Odds are good that many of your employees will use that default, and that means more employee savings.
2. Bring your lunch to work and encourage employees to do the same
As a business leader, employees are highly likely to follow your example. I have spoken with many startup CEOs who help employees save money and reinforce company culture by bringing in their own lunch and encouraging employees to do the same.
By making lunch at home, employees can save money that they might otherwise be spending at restaurants or ordering takeout.
What's more, the CEOs set up a regular time for people from all departments to get together in the lunchroom so they can learn more about what everyone else is doing.
3. Give employees a discount on memberships to warehouse clubs
I have not been to a Costco, but from what I understand, you pay a membership fee that allows you to purchase certain products in bulk -- thus saving you significant amounts of money.
Your company might give employees discounts on memberships to such warehouse clubs and encourage them to invest the money they save on the items they purchase there.
4. Organize a way for employees who are parents and grandparents to sell used children's clothes and toys
If your company employs people who are parents and grandparents, they may have purchased clothes that are sitting in a closet somewhere because the children have outgrown them.
You could organize a way for those parents and grandparents to sell their surplus children's clothes and toys to people at your office who need them. Such an exchange could give the sellers cash that they could save and provide the buyers with discounts on usable used clothes and toys.
5. Take public transportation to and from work and give employees discounts on fares
It is much more expensive to drive a car to work and pay for parking than it is to use public transportation. If you can take public transportation to work, you should do so and let your employees know. What's more, you should offer employees discounts on train and bus tickets to encourage those who can to take public transportation. And you should urge your staff to invest some of the savings.
6. If you must drive to work, make sure you carpool and encourage your people to do the same
Not everyone can get to work on time via public transportation. But if you are one of those people, consider whether you could carpool to save money for those you pick up and deliver during the commute. And give your employees an incentive to do the same -- possibly by subsidizing the E-ZPass they need to pay tolls on the way to work.
7. Urge employees to use online price comparison sites for common household items
Your company's human resources department should create a website that lists the best online price comparison sites for the most common items that your employees are likely to be buying on an ongoing basis.
If you provide employees with these seven savings techniques, there's no guarantee they won't spend the savings. But you should lead by example and hope that your people realize that following is in their best interest.