In this piece, we’re going to discuss ways in which employers can support employee financial wellbeing at work.
A survey conducted by Salary Finance shows that 40% of UK employees are more worried about their finances than their relationships, health and careers. In addition, employees with financial stress were 3.8 times more likely to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and are four times more likely to agree with the sentence…
“I feel depressed and find it difficult to carry on with life”.
These are some stark statistics that only seem to be heard more and more as we enter one of the highest periods of inflation the country has ever seen.
What Can Employers Do To Support Financial Wellbeing at Work?
Financial worries can not only affect our mental health but they can also affect our ability to work, our ability to let our creativity flow and our ability to foster connections in the workplace. Financial worries are often something we shy away from. In the same way mental health concerns are stigmatised, the topic of money is also something we struggle to talk about, especially at work.
But how much of an impact is this having on our mental wellbeing?
There is a lot to be said and done on the topic of financial wellbeing in the workplace and employers are best placed to implement helpful tools and tips to support their employees.
Spotting the Signs of Money Worries
A good place to start in supporting employee financial wellbeing at work is understanding and being able to spot the signs someone is exhibiting if they’re worried about their financial difficulties.
Just like all mental health problems, financial pressure falls under the same umbrella – it is a very personal issue. Some obvious signs, outside of the norm, to look out for include:
Arriving late to work
Taking more days off sick
Requesting changes to their employee benefits
The aforementioned may arise if someone is struggling to put fuel in their car to go to work and instead end up taking the day off, for example. Although these signs could be a reflection of something else, when trying to understand and assess how your employees are feeling, think about whether there are any obvious changes, and if so, ask yourself if they could be signs of financial concerns. Typically when someone is struggling with their financial situation, the last person they will want to speak to is their employer.
Where To Start
Open Up the Conversation
In the same way we struggle to talk about personal issues, such as relationship problems or burnout, talking about financial concerns has a level of shame looming over it, particularly on the topic of debt. Awareness around mental health is growing in the workplace and financial wellbeing education is no different. Our perception of money stems from our upbringing and environment; it’s not something we’re taught in school so unless our parents educate us in great detail about financial wellbeing, the way we’re taught to handle money is through observation of our caregivers. Employers can however continue the conversation about financial education by not shying away from the topic – some people may not be aware they can consolidate their debt for example. By keeping the conversation open and organic, we’re in a better position to understand our resources and support in order to create new financial habits.
You’re Not Expected To be An Expert…
…But a level of understanding is a good place to start. Whilst we may think in order to support someone’s money worries we need to be a financial advisor, the truth of the matter is, we don’t. HR Professionals are well placed in the workplace to be able to support someone and provide money guidance, in the form of signposting, for individuals to be able to effectively manage their financial difficulties and enhance their financial future.
When we think of money worries we usually think of “debt”, however less common topics of financial difficulty such as divorce or gambling too fall under this category. Understanding the source of the money stress puts you in a strong position to support employees and provide employees with a healthy financial future.
Know The Difference Between Giving Advice and Informing
Due to our own personal perceptions around money worries, advising employees on how they should spend or save their money could be detrimental. Instead, what is considered helpful is a manager showing compassion and advising them of the professional support that exists to make a real difference. Providing information or contact details to Citizen’s Advice is a stepping stone in supporting employee financial wellbeing.
Know Your Support Networks
There are many debt management support charities that are on hand and can signpost individuals in the right direction. It is ideal to have a number of support networks in mind so that you’re equipped to recommend relevant resources. Charities and organisations that exist include the following:
Dealing with money worries can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. Citizens Advice offer a lot of support for those struggling and unsure which way to turn.
If employees are still being asked to work from home or are working under a hybrid working environment, they may benefit by saving on petrol or by not purchasing that extra coffee. However, they will see an increase in their energy bills as a result. Tax relief programmes exist through the government to help with financial pressures.
Implement a Financial Wellbeing Programme
The obvious way an employer can enhance an employee’s financial wellbeing is by offering a pay rise. However, we understand some businesses may not be in a position to do so and this may not be the solution to the problem as chances are outgoings increase as the salary does.
A lot of support refers back to the need for education and a great place to start is with a Financial Wellbeing Programme. Such ideas are timely placed given the turbulent financial period during COVID-19, furlough schemes and the current rate of inflation. The key to effective financial wellbeing programmes is ensuring they are consistent and that employees are made aware of them when they join the company.
What to Include In Your Financial Wellbeing Programme
Host A Financial Wellbeing Session with Everymind at Work
Much like our Financial Wellbeing webinar that we host for our clients at Everymind at Work, hosting sessions with external speakers and experts in the field can provide a level of education for you. In our session, delivered by Lloyd Magee (Financial Advisor & Wealth Consultant), your employees will receive professional advice on how to take control of their financial lives, helping them to plan and build the future they want. The interaction and informative session gives staff the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the benefits of taking control of their financial wellbeing. As well as building knowledge, we seek to provide the time and space for individuals to explore areas of concern and ask specific questions about their financial circumstances. We will work with you to tailor the webinar to your employee’s specific needs.
It’s natural for businesses to be concerned to host said talks in fear of opening up a can of worms. The idea of learning lunches helps provide a safe space and environment for people to talk openly and come away with a set of new skills.
Host Talks With Your Pension Providers
Why not ask your pension providers to come in and talk with your teams? Pension schemes exist in an employee’s benefits package for a reason and often people don’t understand where their pension money is invested. Employees can worry when reaching the age of retirement so education around pensions can release financial pressure.
Look At Your Language
Some businesses prefer to refer to Financial Wellbeing as “Financial Education” to foster the importance of knowledge around the topic that we’re not taught in school. Speak in ways that will support the importance of managing financial wellbeing, as opposed to offering quick fixes. Whilst payment tools such as Klarna or finance schemes exist as helpful tools, they can be incredibly detrimental and often land people in debt, particularly when interest rates change. In the same way we are on a mission to re-educate ourselves and reduce the stigma on the topic of mental health, the same applies to financial wellbeing.
Just because someone is on a higher salary doesn’t make them exempt from money worries. Varying degrees of salaries doesn’t discriminate who may or may not find themselves struggling with rising inflation, debt or financial stress. As previously mentioned, financial difficulty is very individual. Social pressures do drive debt in a number of scenarios causing people to finance cars or apply for large mortgages. Should a family member be made redundant this can put them at risk of ending up in a difficult financial situation that an employer may not be aware of.
If you are looking at more ways you can implement an effective Financial Wellbeing Programme, you might find the recording of our Money Worries and the Workplace webinar helpful.
How We Can Help
Everymind at Work is on a mission to help employees feel safe to talk about mental health in the workplace.
Think of us as a catalyst for change in your business, helping you to break down mental health stigma and providing crucial proactive support to employees across the year. It all starts with taking the right approach to wellbeing in the workplace, which includes financial wellbeing.
Our 3 Pillar approach allows organisations to switch from reactive to proactive, providing a framework to build the right wellbeing initiatives and increase employee engagement across the business. Best of all, our people and our stories are the foundation for how we keep things human, connecting with your employees to help them stay happy, healthy and productive.
We know that many HR & People Professionals are given the sole responsibility of implementing and executing an effective employee wellbeing strategy but we are here to help, you are not alone.
If you’re a little unsure of where to start with employee wellbeing or you would simply like to learn more about our proactive approach, you can speak with one of our wellbeing advisors just here.