Dan Lucy: Employers can support the financial wellbeing of employees during Covid-19 crisis

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is turning all our worlds upside down right now and that is no less true of the world of work. Regrettable job losses sit alongside staff being furloughed now or possibly in the future.

Much has been said and written on how employers can protect and support employees’ wellbeing at this time, in particular their mental, and to a lesser extent, physical health.

Whilst the financial focus has been on government action to support organisations and workers through the job retention scheme, there has been less focus on how an employer may support its employees with their financial wellbeing in this difficult period.

We know that poor financial wellbeing can lead to stress, anxiety, poor health and distracted, or below par, performance at work. And we also know that an employer can do much to support its employees’ financial capability to both weather the storm now and provide for a rosy future further down the line.

Employers can take simple steps to understand employee needs, the financial challenges they face now and in the future, and what support may be needed to alleviate some of the pressures they may be under. They can also signpost employees to useful sources of support, guidance and tools, and even target some of the guidance at particular workforce groups where educated guesses can be made about their likely needs, although it is important to avoid making too many assumptions about who and who may not need support.

They can also communicate what existing benefits and support are currently available, especially if take-up is low for particular workforce groups. There is, of course, a need for careful and sensitive messaging around all of this at this particularly difficult time, but packaged right, an offer of support could be just what is needed to alleviate significant distress, as well as pay dividends in terms of employee retention and engagement when, hopefully, the recovery begins.

Dan Lucy is a principal research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies.