Rachel Clift: How to support employees with money worries

We are currently living in uncertain times, with austerity and the constant pressure of cost saving taking its toll.

UK household debt has hit a record high at £428 billion, according to figures published in January 2019 by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). With an average total debt per household of £59,708, as reported by The Money Charity in July 2019, millions of people rely on borrowing to make ends meet.

Money worries, such as debt, are also the second biggest reason why people contact automotive industry charity Ben for support.

Close Brothers Asset Management’s Financial wellbeing index 2019, which surveyed more than 5,000 UK employees and was published in March 2019, found that 77% of respondents believe money worries impact them at work. Money worries also tend to be accompanied by higher levels of stress, anxiety, low moods and even depression. So, it is no surprise that employers report increased absence, reduced productivity and lower retention, all related to employees’ money concerns.

So, what can employers do to help? First, they can make self-help resources available as part of the employee communications narrative, to raise awareness and signpost people to relevant support.

Employers can also up-skill managers, developing their communications and observational skills, so they can identify when an employee is struggling and feel confident about having difficult conversations about money worries, debt or gambling.

Organisations can further provide opportunities for individuals to improve their numeracy and money management skills, as well as offering a great on-boarding and induction experience; this is important in helping employees understand their benefits, such as pension, reward and recognition.

Conversations about money are not easy, but not having them can lead to unnecessary problems. According to the Single Financial Guidance Body, in May 2018, 63% of people said that money worries were affecting the mental health of someone close to them.

Providing information and advice to support the financial literacy of the workforce can become an important part of an organisation’s health and wellbeing strategy.

Rachel Clift is health and wellbeing director at Ben, the not-for-profit support organisation for the automotive industry

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