We know money worries can have a huge impact on your mental health – financial stress can lead to sleepless nights, anxiety, and an inability to fully focus on your work.
However, as an employer, there are some steps you can take to help your staff to manage their financial wellbeing. In this toolkit, we’ve brought together some resources you can use to create a culture of financial wellness at work.
Conor D’Arcy, Head of Research and Policy at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, has answered some key questions to explain the connection between money and mental health, and offer his advice on what you can do for your employees.
How are our finances and mental health linked?
Experiencing mental health problems shouldn’t have to mean a life in financial difficulty, yet too often that’s the reality that people face. Our research before the pandemic showed that in England alone over 1.5 million people were experiencing both problem debt and mental health problems. The symptoms of mental health problems can make it harder to earn money, to manage spending and to get a fair deal on products and services. Life is likely to cost more, precisely when we have less money available to spend.
Equally, facing financial difficulties shouldn’t result in needing mental health treatment – but too often those things go hand in hand. Financial difficulty itself causes stress and anxiety, but this is often made worse by collections activity or having to go without essentials. Over 100,000 people in England every year attempt to take their own life whilst struggling with problem debt.
Why should employers be concerned about the financial wellbeing of their staff?
This negative cycle can affect us in the workplace too. Two-thirds of employees who are struggling financially report at least one sign of poor mental health that could affect their ability to function at work. These include loss of sleep, poor concentration, and reduced motivation. Poor treatment in work can make this all the more difficult, with one in five people who have experienced mental health problems saying they’ve faced discrimination in the workplace due to their mental health.
Employers have the power to improve both the financial and mental wellbeing of their workforce, as well as their productivity, by introducing new processes or resources that build financial resilience, creating a culture of support and providing essential help once problems have set in.
What has the COVID-19 pandemic meant for people’s financial wellbeing?
For many of us, the pandemic has led to tightened budgets and made it harder to stay well mentally. And the changes to workplaces required by social distancing have meant more of us have been working differently. But it also presents a huge opportunity to rethink how to get the best out of employees, by supporting them, and contributing to breaking the link between mental health problems and financial difficulty. Simple steps like providing mental health training to line managers or offering roles flexibly wherever possible can help new and existing employees to work in ways suited to their needs. A workplace that contributes to good mental health can mean people have an easier time balancing their finances and their wellbeing.