• Barnett Waddingham
    Barnett Waddingham
  • 5 Minutes With… WorkLife by OpenMoney’s Niamh McLaughlin

    WorkLife by OpenMoney‘s Niamh McLaughlin sits down with HR Briefing to talk about her company, the biggest challenges in the sector right now, the impact of technology on workplace health and wellbeing, and the positives of hybrid working…

    Tell us about your company, products and services.

    WorkLife by OpenMoney is a benefits and wellbeing platform designed to make high-quality employee benefits affordable and accessible to every business.

    Our suite of benefits has been curated to address the ‘Five Pillars of Wellbeing’ – Financial, Physical, Mental, Social and Environmental – enabling our clients to devise reward packages that have the most meaningful impact on their employees’ overall wellbeing.

    What have been the biggest challenges the Human Resources industry has faced over the past 12 months?

    1. A move to remote and hybrid working

    The sudden transition to remote working was challenging for many businesses, with the move into socially distanced or hybrid working now presenting its own obstacles.

    There has been a huge amount of change to the way of working in a relatively short space of time, and businesses are now having to adapt to this, whilst maintaining staff morale.

    1. Recruitment & retention

    The skills shortage within the UK has been highly documented in recent months, with our latest Small Business Monitor research showing that one in five (20%) business owners consider recruitment and retention to be one of the top concerns facing their business.

    Among those firms struggling to retain staff, the biggest issue was the cost of rewarding and incentivising staff in line with their expectations (32%), while those experiencing recruitment challenges have struggled to source talent with relevant experience (50%).

    Employers are faced with a whole new maze of complexities in recruiting, retaining and rewarding staff right now, and navigating these will be a key challenge over the next few months.

    1. Supporting employee wellbeing

    The pandemic raised new challenges for employees, whether that’s anxiety about their physical health or that of family members, feelings of isolation and loneliness or concerns around job security.

    Our latest research has shown that more than a fifth (22%) of SME decision makers consider managing employee wellbeing to be one of the key current challenges for their business, but finding new ways to address these issues is something every HR team has had to tackle.

    And what have been the biggest opportunities?

    The move to remote and hybrid working brings opportunities as well as challenges. For some firms, offering greater flexibility in the way of working has allowed them to enhance work-life balance for employees, leading to increased productivity and boosted morale and engagement.

    But there are now a whole host of other opportunities for employers to explore within the realm of supporting their employees’ mental and physical health. For example Thrive, the only NHS-approved mental health app, can be accessed via WorkLife and provides practical guidance and coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Implementing support such as this can be a key way of showing employees they are valued and help build meaningful relationships that encourage them to stick around long-term.

    What is the biggest priority for the Human Resources industry in 2022/23?

    ‘The Great Resignation’ and overcoming the recruitment and retention issues previously mentioned will continue to be at the forefront of employers’ minds. Having a strong employee benefits proposition can help ensure a level playing field here.

    Just as important will be managing the impact of remote and hybrid working on employee mental health and wellbeing. Employers need to be aware of the potential risk of burnout and play an active role in signposting employees to the help and support that is available.

    What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022/23?

    1. Hybrid working as the new normal: Considering the risk of blurred lines between home and work life, a meaningful employee benefits strategy will no longer be seen as a ‘nice-to-have’, but rather a necessity for all businesses.
    2. New innovations: The range of employee benefits and wellbeing solutions on offer will grow and evolve, increasingly moving away from traditional ‘perks’ and towards those features which are more tangible and tailored to suit the ever-evolving needs of employees.
    3. An increased focus on financial wellbeing: Concerns about debt or other money worries can take its toll on other aspects of employees’ wellbeing – not least their mental health – meaning financial wellbeing is critical to total wellness. Employers have become increasingly aware of this throughout the pandemic, and so financial wellbeing will become an essential consideration when employers build their employee wellbeing strategy.
    4. A segmentation of the wellbeing industry: To support more specific needs, whether that’s support for employees before, during and after childbirth, buying a first home or writing a will.

    What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

    Platforms such as WorkLife which enable employees themselves to take a proactive approach to their health and wellbeing and select those benefits and support which will improve their wellness as an individual.

    Also, technologies that provide new ways to train and learn online so we can ensure new starters gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in their roles – as well as allowing existing employees to grow and develop.

    Algorithms and open banking apps to help employees manage their money better will be equally key. Given the challenges relating to inflation and the rising cost of living, the need for financial support will become increasingly prevalent.

    Appetite for salary sacrifice electric vehicle schemes has also been growing, and is likely to grow further as fuel prices continue to increase. The need to reduce fuel costs, coupled with very low BIK rates and businesses wanting to prove their green credentials, make this attractive to many businesses.

    In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

    How we managed before hybrid working was the norm! How did we balance everything pre-pandemic where we had the daily commute five days per week, on top of workload and family commitments?

    You go to the bar at the HR Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?


    What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

    The people I work with – being part of an enthusiastic and diverse team who are brimming with ideas on how we can improve employee wellbeing.

    I love working for a company that genuinely values people. WorkLife truly walks the walk in that respect. 

    And what’s the most challenging?

    Challenging the notion that financial guidance and education by itself is enough to have a meaningful impact on employees’ financial wellbeing.

    We believe that every employee should be able to access proper, regulated financial advice through the workplace, and that’s why we offer OpenMoney – the digital financial advice app – as a core benefit on our platform.

    With OpenMoney, workers are able to obtain tailored, practical money advice, designed to help people understand how they can make the best of their own financial situation. This provides a vital lifeline to staff struggling with their personal finances.

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

    If something is meant to be, it will happen. What’s meant for you won’t pass you by.

    The Crown or Peaky Blinders?

    Peaky Blinders.


    Looking to motivate and engage your employees?

    Get in touch with us here to discuss your needs and see how we can help your business.

    Want to find out more about WorkLife by OpenMoney, click here to visit our website.


    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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