Recent research by Close Brother Financial Wellbeing Index has demonstrated a clear and sobering link between poor financial wellbeing and mental health.
Research has found that money worries are impacting more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of employees at work with a disastrous knock-on effect for productivity.
The inaugural Close Brothers Financial Wellbeing Index, which polled 5,000 UK employees, found two in five (39 per cent) worried about money always or often, with younger workers the most affected.
This is clearly a bottom-line issue that businesses need to act on. Financial worries will impact an employee’s performance, decision making, overall health, concentration, and attendance at work.
Employees feeling financial pressure are also likely to be sleep deprived and present acute symptoms of poor mental health. Previous CIPD research has also found physical fatigue caused by lost sleep worrying about money was the most common reason why financial concerns impacted individuals’ productivity.
The research found 87 per cent of millennials and 72 per cent of employees aged between 35-54 reported being affected. Those over the age of 55 were least likely to suffer, with 47 per cent reporting they were affected by money worries.
The survey, which also polled more than 1,000 employers, found businesses “dramatically overestimate” employee financial wellbeing, despite 22 per cent noting reduced productivity as a result of money-related stress.
Employees with financial stress were more likely to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and are more likely to feel depressed and find it difficult to carry on with life. However, only 45 per cent of employers surveyed provided finance-specific support. In addition to salary and pensions, the top benefits employees were offered to help improve their financial wellbeing were discount vouchers for lifestyle expenditure, financial advice, retirement seminars and workplace loans.
Organisations are clearly struggling to assist their employees in a clear and meaningful way on this issue, with CIPD president Professor Sir Cary Cooper saying: “Although many businesses have made great strides to look after the mental wellbeing of their employees over the last decade, not as many employers have supported their financial wellbeing. And given that employees have said their money worries are affecting them at work, this is a bottom-line issue.”
What can employers do?
First of all, create an understanding in your organisation about the relationship between mental and financial wellbeing. They are too interconnected to be addressed separately.
Three steps you can take are:
1.Help break down the stigma and encourage openness. We all experience mental health issues and are affected by financial worries. Create a culture where your employees can discuss their worries with you.
2. Offer accessible financial education and support.
3. Make sure you offer financial benefits that allow people to take action and make a positive change. Improving financial education is essential, but if an employee is excluded from mainstream credit they may not be able to take action on advice to pay off debt. Providing a route out from under the weight of debt can have a huge, same-day positive impact on their wellbeing.
And most importantly – be empathetic and listen to your employees. And ensure your managers are trained to be able to offer support when your employees need it
If you need support with any of the issues touched on in this post, get in touch!
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