Helen Undy: How can employers help employees improve their financial resilience?

Helen Undy

While employees might try their best to leave their problems at the door when coming to work, we all know it is not realistic. Employees are human beings; when under financial pressure, behind on bills or being contacted by creditors, they underperform at work and their mental health can be seriously affected.

That is the evidence found in the Overstretched, overdrawn, underserved report by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, published in May 2017. This research shows that a quarter of the UK workforce is financially insecure, and that these money worries not only sap productivity, but they can be a key cause of conditions like depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, there are some straightforward things that employers can do to help to boost financial wellbeing and support the mental health of their workforce.

Firstly, employers should work to build employees’ financial resilience. Employers should explore providing both savings schemes and short-term loans through payroll, allowing a lower rate of interest to be offered and helping employees to avoid fees and charges.

Secondly, employers should include training on problem debt and financial difficulty in management training, and minimise the costs of participation at work to reduce stigma. This ensures that employees in financial difficulty are not excluded from social or professional events.

Lastly, employers should offer help once problems have set in and support employees who are taking sickness absence to avoid financial difficulty. They can do this by establishing reasonable sick pay policies, considering group income protection policies and by signposting to welfare advice where appropriate.

Helen Undy is head of external affairs at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute

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