The events of the past six months have brought the topic of financial resilience into our everyday conversations, and employers have had to consider the impact that the rising cost of living is having on their employees. For many in employment, it is becoming more and more difficult to balance finances as the price of energy bills, food and fuel takes up an ever-growing proportion of people’s income.
While considering the financial implications of the cost-of-living crisis, employers must also think about how they can support employee wellbeing at this time. Money worries and mental health have always been closely linked. Having debt problems can lead to stress and anxiety, and having mental health problems can have a knock-on effect on someone’s work and income.
Last year, more than half of StepChange’s new clients or their partners were in work, which shows just how important it is for employers to ask themselves how employees will cope if their hours or overtime are cut, or how they will cope with rising costs. Employers should look at what they can meaningfully offer in terms of support with employees’ wellbeing to help them cope with changing circumstances that can so often lead to financial difficulty.
An up-to-date strategy for supporting employees’ mental, physical and financial wellbeing is going to be key to helping navigate the cost-of-living crisis. Ensuring one is in place for organisations for the coming year should be a priority.
What an effective wellbeing strategy looks like will differ depending upon the organisation. These can range from measures as simple as signposting to helpful places such as free financial advice and mental health support, to those more complex, such as training up mental health first aiders or trialling an employee assistance programme through a healthcare provider. With these just the tip of the iceberg, it is well worth exploring what measures your organisation could implement.
Richard Lane is director of external affairs at StepChange