Supporting employees through financial stress – The impact of money on employee wellbeing
Written by Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health
UK workers are facing money worries like never before in the face of the cost-of-living crisis. Westfield Health found that 73% of workers were concerned about the rising cost of living. With money concerns coming to the forefront, how can businesses support their people’s wellbeing throughout the crisis?
With financial stability and wellbeing closely linked, we’re likely to see a significant mental health impact as households across the country find themselves struggling to make ends meet.
While the extent of the cost-of-living crisis is beyond the power of employers, there is support they can offer to help their employees through financial issues. Money worries can be fuelled by a lack of knowledge and confidence in financial management, so offering help can prove valuable for employees.
According to our research, 50% of people in the UK say financially, things are ‘really difficult,’ and 54% feel they’d struggle to deal with an unexpected bill. With inflation predicted to rise further in the spring, this on-going worry presents a real mental health concern.
It can be challenging to know where to turn for help for financial worries. Employers can support their people through clear signposting to advice. Services such as Citizens Advice and StepChange can offer guidance on easing the pressure during difficult times. Directing employees to the Government’s Money and Pensions Service which offers free, confidential debt advice, is also a simple step to ensure people have access to information they may need.
Benefits and perks
While it can be tricky to navigate conversations around money in the workplace, people will be looking to their employer to take action to support them through this period. So, aside from providing access to regulated advice, employers can also implement other benefits and perks to ease financial worries.
Life insurance, critical illness cover, income protection, private medical insurance, company cars, cost reduction schemes – such as travel card loans or discounted memberships – and childcare assistance are all excellent ways to offer support for employees. These are not only good benefits that will attract talent or help with staff retention but will also offer some support for those that may be worried about personal finances.
Some employees may value the opportunity to discuss their problems and feel heard, and managers should feel confident to ask what they can do to help. Employee wellbeing can be impacted by many things including financial worries, burnout, and stress, and to support employees during these testing times, a strong wellbeing strategy is needed.
This should include avenues for staff to voice their concerns and stresses within aspects of their role. Firms could ask their people what support they need and then be proactive about implementing changes; a survey or scheduled catchups is an excellent way to do this, especially as specific employees may have different needs.
Employers should also recruit and train Mental Health First Aiders to provide additional support for their people. These dedicated staff members would be on-hand to support and perhaps spot signs of mental health struggles within the workforce.
Employees may also not fully understand how to claim their workplace benefits, so it’s important to regularly communicate what’s on offer. Another way to educate employees is to hold webinars or workshops to remind them about salary sacrifice schemes, pension options, retail discount schemes, or training opportunities that may help them manage their personal finances.