Supporting the financial wellbeing of your employees and you
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. And the cost of living crisis is making this situation even more critical for some of us.
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.
And if you are a sole trader or self-employed, you might find some of the resources listed at the bottom of this page useful too.
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.
Some practical steps for you to put into practice now
Conor suggests that all employers can take simple steps to help their staff cope when experiencing financial difficulties. He suggests:
- Providing mental health training to line managers – this can help managers to spot the signs of when something might be going wrong, or offer an employee the chance to talk about their problems in a non-judgemental setting.
- Offering roles flexibly wherever possible can help new and existing employees to work in ways suited to their needs. It means they might have time to access external help, such as visiting a financial advisor. It also might allow parents or those with caring responsibilities to better manage their time to avoid some of the additional costs these responsibilities can bring.
And our resources below offer tips too, such as:
- Make it okay to talk about money – we often consider it a taboo subject, but this means sometimes people are left to suffer in silence. Make sure staff know that talking about money isn’t shameful,
- Understand what your employees’ priorities are, and try to align any financial benefits you offer with these,
- Signpost employees to advice on debt, mental health and financial wellbeing that they can access when they feel comfortable.
We’ve also included a link to a resource for freelancers below, as we know money can be a particularly stressful issue for you.
Mental Health at Work has partnered with Simply Business to support the UK’s self-employed with their mental health and wellbeing. Together we surveyed more than 700 small business owners to understand their challenges. Now we want to start a conversation and break the stigma surrounding mental health at work.
Resources in this toolkit:
Find out more about debt
More than 16% of UK adults currently have problem debt, and this can affect your mental wellbeing. This guide from the Bank Workers Charity can help you understand what debt is, an explanation of why it matters, and some first steps you can take to help yourself. It could be a helpful resource to share with your staff, or to use yourself.
Offering financial advice to your employees might seem complicated. The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) have created this PDF guide to help you safely signpost to sources of help so your employees can make better financial choices.
This PDF from Aon explores five simple ways that employers can help their staff to confidently manage their financial lives. It includes tips on gathering information from your organisation, and taking an agile approach to your benefits and rewards schemes.
Building money-management skills in your employees will help them to navigate their financial situation with more ease. This guide from Finty explores how to start working on these skills. You might want to use the tips here as part of your own employee financial education programme.
This website from Our NHS People includes tips on improving your employee’s financial resilience. It includes tips on taking a diverse approach to your support - including information on cultural taboos against money-lending which might affect your employees.
We don't always feel comfortable talking about money. This article by Joe Marshall, Associate Editor at CBI, explores ways employers can make financial wellbeing part of the workplace conversation.