In its continuing research on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on wellbeing, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that one in five adults experienced depressive symptoms in early 2021 (27 January to 7 March, Great Britain), more than double that was seen before the pandemic.
It's well known that emotional and financial wellbeing are connected to each other. By being in a poor financial situation, people are much more likely to experience feelings of stress and worry, causing sleepless nights, which can lead to poorer performance at work and with relationships with colleagues. Ultimately, this can also lead to greater levels of absenteeism in the workplace which then places extra stress on other staff and so the cycle goes on.
It is a common misconception that financial wellbeing is purely about pay. Whilst money worries tend to become less as income rises, those earning £100,000 per annum are just as likely to have as many financial worries as someone on much lower income if they have little savings and a lot of debt. Financial worry is not necessarily directly linked to pay.
There are many causes of financial stress. Debt is an obvious one but in recent surveys and webinars we have carried out, one of the most popular questions that employees wanted to have more information on was around “how to budget?”
The Financial Capability website - www.fincap.org.uk - states that 23 million working-age adults do not feel confident planning for their financial future. Research by the Neyber (The DNA of Financial Wellbeing) estimates that money worries cost the UK economy £120bn and 17.5 million lost hours of work. The research discusses the evidence for why employers should be developing and supporting their employees' financial wellbeing.
Why should employers provide financial wellbeing support? There is clear evidence from these and other sources of research that many employees believe there is a role to play for employers to support their personal financial wellbeing. The Money Advice Service (MAS) website also comments that 46% of employees say they would appreciate their employer providing access to financial awareness programmes. MAS also provides impartial guidance across all areas of financial matters.
Employers are uniquely positioned to deliver money guidance around life-changing events such as for example changing roles, locations, starting a family, and retirement.
Understanding employee needs and feedback through a colleague survey can provide valuable insight for an employer and helps them to understand the information and support their employees value the most. A survey of this nature will help an employer to decide the type of financial wellbeing programme to run and if you need specialist support and guidance, for example, if the feedback is around pension or retirement planning. You may need to bring in specialists who can give regulated advice in areas such as this.
For employees, financial wellbeing is becoming more important, especially in this current crisis, but this has been building for a while. For employers having a workforce that is engaged, informed, supported and efficient will improve productivity, it can also help to improve staff retention, and thereby also reduce costs and provide benefits in other ways. If employees can see their employers supporting them outside of their pay and immediate other benefits structure they clearly feel more valued, it’s no wonder they go hand in hand. By understanding these issues employers will go a long way towards building trust with their employees.
Find out more about our Financial Education and Wellbeing Program for employers and employees and download our guide here