Financial wellbeing and mental health: A vicious cycle

According to research by Neyber, financial issues are the biggest worry for employees over anything else. Having help and procedures in place as well as preventative measures should therefore be a top priority for companies.

But, it goes further than just financial worries. Having financial trouble can lead to further psychological and mental effects. This can turn into a viscous cycle, as will be explained further in this article.

In short, while Neyber’s findings indicate that financial worries are more prevalent than previously thought, the problems that can arise go deeper than that. Basically, employers should look to provide both financial support and mental health support.

How financial worries can contribute to poor mental health
Increased stress levels and lack of sleep are the issues caused by financial worries that are reported the most. The knock-on effects of these can vary, as can other issues caused by financial worries. Recognising these issues early on, from an employer’s point of view, can be crucial in helping employees avoid further issues. We’ll talk a little bit more about what employers can do to help further on in this article. For managers, these are the most common issues to look out for.

The Reverse
A person’s financial situation can be made even worse by poor mental health. Most employees say they spend more when they’re experiencing mental health issues. Many also put off dealing with creditors and debts due to poor mental health. Some say they’re also more likely to borrow money when dealing with issues. Therefore, financial worries can be a viscous cycle. A poor financial situation can contribute to poor mental health and poor mental health can contribute to a further deteriorating financial situation. Managers and businesses need to be wary.

How can companies help
Train managers and use them as a means for support for employees

Training managers in helping people experiencing mental health issues and financial worries will always be worthwhile. Often, the first place employees turn to if they need help at work is their boss. Also, managers will know and work with the employees in their team more than most others at the company.

Mental health training can be provided by dedicated mental health organisations that will come to your workplace to help train your employees. You can also do online courses. There are all kinds of mental health training available from mental health awareness to managing mental health in the workplace. There are loads of organisations that will be more than happy to help train your staff.

Offer an EAP
An Employee Assistance Programme is a must. More and more companies are offering these as awareness of mental health issues increases. While many EAP’s are implemented to help combat mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, they can actually be used to help specifically with financial worries.

While they won’t necessarily help with financial advice (there are other employee benefit schemes that can help with that), they will help people deal with the issues directly. There are a range of financial problems people have including issues with gambling to issues with debt, and an EAP will help with all of these.

Culture – let employees know that it’s ok to talk about it
It’s important to let your employees know that it’s ok to talk to someone about their financial worries. If people feel more comfortable with this and recognise that many people have financial trouble, they are more likely to use your EAP or financial support.

This can be done through hosting workshops and educating employees about how to avoid financial issues and it can also be done through communicating your employee benefits that will specifically help with financial troubles. For new starters, make it part of their induction. Let them know from the get-go that there is help available if they need it.

Offer financial support through employee benefits platform
This could include alternative ways to save with ISA’s and investment options or some form of financial education. It could also include ways to help manage debts or salary sacrifice loan options. Salary sacrifice is a great way to help alleviate financial issues, particularly where debts are involved. With interest rates so low, salary sacrifice is a great way to get a return on your investments.

Offering financial wellbeing employee benefits is where all employers should start when it comes to alleviating financial worries in the workplace.