The 'ripple effect' of financial worries

Drop a stone into a pond and you’ll see ripples spread out across the whole surface of the water.  

The 'ripple effect' of financial worries

When it comes to money problems, the effect is similar. Poor financial wellbeing doesn’t just affect an individual – it has a ripple effect that impacts partners, family members and work colleagues as well.

The impact on personal relationships

Neyber’s DNA of Financial Wellbeing (2018) report found that 44 per cent of the 10,000 employees surveyed believe financial worries have a negative effect on their behaviour, with 57 per cent saying it affects their relationships at home.

Relationship support provider Relate’s In Too Deep – an investigation into debt and relationships (2017) research showed that 31 per cent of its users said that debt had contributed to the breakdown in their relationship, and 19 per cent said that it had a ‘considerable impact’ on their relationship with their children. 

The impact also extends to friendships. Just over half of respondents to Neyber’s research said that their financial worries had affected their social relationships.

The impact on work

Beyond friends and family, the ‘ripple effect’ also extends to the workplace, where 40 per cent said that money concerns have affected their relationships at work. Team work, decision-making and personal productivity are all likely to suffer when an employee is under pressure financially. Over half of respondents under the age of 45 in Neyber’s survey said that they felt financial worries affected their job performance.

Those concerns are felt to some extent in every industry sector. For example, 51 per cent of those employed in finance and insurance, 74 per cent of ambulance staff and 48 per cent of construction workers said that their job performance is affected by poor financial wellbeing.

How to reverse the ‘ripple effect’

Employers in any sector can help to stem, or even reverse, the ripple effect of poor staff financial wellbeing.

Train staff to spot when a colleague is struggling

Changes in an employee’s behaviour or a drop in their productivity can be a sign that all is not well. Educate line managers and the rest of the workforce so that they can see when a colleague is struggling and know how to respond. The reason might not always be money-related, but being able to open a conversation with a colleague is a vital skill.

Create the right culture

Almost half of respondents to our survey said that money worries have a negative impact on their ability to seek help generally. Employers are extremely well placed to help, but at present only five per cent of employees say they would turn to their workplace if they had a money problem.

Employers are not always receptive, either. Our research found that a third of the 500 employers we surveyed said employees’ financial health wasn’t something that their organisation had responsibility for. Only 22 per cent said they felt it was important to look after the financial wellbeing of their staff.  

Offer EAPs and other support resources

Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) can give employees help through work without having to confide in colleagues or line managers. There are benefits for employers, too. Aggregated, anonymised data from EAP providers can offer valuable insights into what is worrying staff.

Develop a financial wellbeing strategy for the whole workforce

It can be tempting to focus financial wellbeing on low-paid or younger workers, but money worries affect employees of all ages, levels of seniority and income brackets. Nearly half of employees aged between 55 and 64 who took part in The DNA of Financial Wellbeing (2018) survey said that they are affected by money worries. 

Make communications effective, frequent and appropriate

Although half of businesses believe their employees think they care about their financial wellbeing, in fact only 32 per cent of employees really feel that their employer cares. That could be because the employer’s approach to financial wellbeing isn’t appropriate for the workforce, hasn’t been communicated properly or employees have forgotten about it. Reducing the ripple effect of poor financial wellbeing can’t be a one-off campaign – it is an ongoing workplace challenge that requires long-term commitment.

This article is provided by Neyber.

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