Cultural Perspectives: How Money Impacts Financial Wellbeing in the Workplace in Asia

Cultural Perspectives: How Money Impacts Financial Wellbeing in the Workplace in Asia  

Understanding cultural perspectives on money is crucial for addressing financial wellbeing in the workplace. Cultural attitudes towards money vary across the Asia region, influencing individuals' financial behaviours and overall financial health. In this edition of IMPACTxAsia, we explore the diverse cultural views on money in Asia and their implications on financial wellbeing in the workplace. We delve into the significance of cultural awareness for organisations and provide strategies to improve their understanding of how culture impacts financial wellbeing. 


Cultural Perspectives on Money in Asia:
Asia is a region rich in cultural diversity, with each market having unique perspectives on money. While it is essential to acknowledge the vast range of cultural attitudes towards money in Asia, we can highlight a few key examples and their impact on financial wellbeing: 

Confucian Values and Saving Culture 
In countries influenced by Confucian values, such as but not limited to China, South Korea and Japan, saving and frugality are highly regarded. The emphasis on long-term financial security and responsibility can lead to high savings rates but may also result in underinvestment and limited risk-taking in the workplace. Employees may prioritise stability over career advancement, impacting their financial wellbeing in the long run. 

Collectivism and Family Support 
In many Asian cultures, such as India and the Philippines, collectivism and strong family ties play a significant role. Financial decisions are often made with the collective interest of the family in mind. While this fosters a sense of support and solidarity, it can also lead to financial obligations and responsibilities that impact individual financial wellbeing and limit personal financial autonomy. 

Face and Social Status 
In some Asian cultures, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, maintaining "face" or social status is paramount. This can lead to a focus on material possessions and conspicuous consumption, which may result in individuals prioritising appearances over their actual financial health. The pressure to maintain a certain lifestyle can lead to financial stress and unsustainable spending habits. 

Hierarchical Structures and Financial Decision-Making 
In countries like Thailand and Indonesia, hierarchical structures heavily influence financial decision-making. Elders or authority figures within the workplace or family often hold significant control over financial matters. This can limit individuals' autonomy and involvement in financial decision-making, impacting their overall financial wellbeing and sense of empowerment. 


The Impact on Financial Wellbeing in the Workplace 

Cultural perspectives on money in Asia have a profound impact on financial wellbeing in the workplace. Here are some key implications: 

Savings and Investment Attitudes 
Cultural norms that prioritise saving and financial stability may discourage individuals from taking risks or pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. This can limit career growth and financial prosperity, impacting overall financial wellbeing in the workplace. 

Family Obligations 
The strong emphasis on family support can lead to financial obligations that divert resources away from personal financial goals. Employees may face pressure to financially support extended family members, impacting their ability to save, invest, or focus on personal financial growth. 

Stress and Financial Strain 
The cultural expectations to maintain social status or "face" can lead to financial stress and strain. Individuals may feel pressured to spend beyond their means to meet societal expectations, resulting in debt and financial instability. This stress can adversely affect productivity, job satisfaction and overall wellbeing in the workplace. 


Improving Awareness of Cultural Impact on Financial Wellbeing 

Organisations can take proactive steps to improve their awareness of how culture impacts financial wellbeing in the workplace. Here are some strategies to consider: 

Cultural Competency Training 
Provide cultural competency training to employees and leaders to enhance their understanding of diverse cultural perspectives on money. This training should focus on promoting empathy, open dialogue and respect for different financial values and behaviours. 

Employee Surveys and Feedback 
Conduct regular surveys and feedback sessions to gauge employees' financial concerns and understand how cultural factors may influence their financial decisions. This data can help organisations tailor financial wellness programmes and benefits to meet the specific needs of their diverse workforce. 

Customised Financial Education 
Offer customised financial education programmes that consider cultural nuances and address the unique financial challenges faced by employees from different cultural backgrounds. By providing culturally relevant resources, organisations can empower employees to make informed financial decisions and improve their financial wellbeing. 

Flexible Financial Policies 
Develop flexible financial policies that accommodate cultural differences and individual financial preferences. This may include offering diverse savings and investment options, flexible compensation packages and benefits that align with employees' cultural values and financial goals. 


Understanding cultural perspectives on money in Asia is crucial for addressing financial wellbeing in the workplace. By recognising and respecting diverse attitudes towards money, organisations can create inclusive environments that promote financial empowerment and support the financial wellbeing of their employees. Through cultural competency training, customised financial education and flexible financial policies, organisations can foster a workplace culture that values diversity and supports individuals in achieving their financial goals. By embracing cultural awareness, organisations can navigate cultural differences and build a thriving workforce where financial wellbeing is prioritised and celebrated. 


Author: Chris Mack, Programme Manager, Wellbeing, Community Business