Axa research: Financial worries prompt stress related absence

A high proportion of UK employees suffer physical and mental stress over financial worries, according to a new report from Axa.

The Money sickness syndrome report found that as many as nine out of ten adults suffer symptoms arising from stress, one of the most common causes of workplace absence.

The study found that the high cost of living, bills and debts are the main triggers of the symptoms of finance-related stress, which can include increased anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.

Stress is estimated to cost the economy £3.7 billion a year in lost productivity, with 1.4 million people taking time off because of money worries.

Whilst a third of those suffering financial stress do take steps to help themselves, one quarter choose to do nothing.

Employers are being urged to intervene before the impact of stress on employee health leads to rising absence rates and increased costs to their organisations.

Eugene Farrell, Axa head of psychological health and wellbeing, said: “Financial concerns affect all types of employee but is often ignored in the workplace. Employers should think about how they can help employees get to grips with their financial problems before they get out of hand and make them too ill to work.

“Possible action includes offering financial education programmes, giving employees periodic access to financial experts, encouraging them to spend a set period each month or week on their finances, ideally in work time, and providing lists of useful contacts such as their nearest Citizens Advice office.

“Organisations that offer employee assistance programmes as a corporate benefit could remind employees that they can access debt or other money advice through this service. And employees who are worried about building a big enough retirement fund could be reminded to take advantage of any pension benefits on offer.”

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