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01 Dec 2023
by Gail Izat

The need to encourage employees to open up about money worries

Many people are struggling with financial stress – but they’re not seeking the support they need

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Ongoing financial uncertainty continues to take its toll on people’s wellbeing. In fact, one in four say that managing their money has caused them sleepless nights and poor mental health.

This is one of the key takeaways from Standard Life’s Retirement Voice 2023 report, which explores how the nation is feeling about their finances and retirement plans. And it’s clear that many are feeling under significant pressure. 

Whilst many people admit that financial issues have impacted their mental and emotional state, our research shows that the majority (six in 10) don’t seek support. 

Women in particular are less likely to look for help than men (26% vs. 36%), even though they’re more likely to feel concerned about their financial situation. Our insights show that almost half (47%) of all women feel worried, anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, compared to a third (33%) of men.

Clearly, there’s a sizeable gap in the number of people who are struggling and of those who actively look for support. But why? And what can employers do to help close the gap?

Why seeking support with money worries is important

Getting support and talking about money worries can make a big difference to people’s financial wellbeing and resilience. According to the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) – which runs the Talk Money Week campaign every year – people who talk about money:

  • make better and less risky financial decisions
  • have stronger personal relationships
  • help their children form good lifetime money habits
  • feel less stressed or anxious and more in control.

Despite these benefits, the majority of people keep quiet; MaPS research shows that eight in 10 people avoid discussing their finances. The most common reasons for avoiding talking about money are not wanting to be judged, fear of burdening others, and shame or embarrassment.

What can employers do to help reduce employee financial stress?

It’s important for employers to understand the far-reaching impact that financial stress can have on people’s lives – and on the workplace. Indeed, in our Retirement Voice survey, almost one in 10 people say they’ve needed to take time off work as a result of managing their finances.

Encouraging employees to seek support and open up about their finances could help to reduce stress and improve their long-term financial wellbeing. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Send a survey to understand employee needs

For your workplace support package to make the most impact, it’s important to understand what’s worrying your employees. Are expensive bills the most pressing concern? Or are people prioritising getting on the property ladder? The only way to find out is to ask. 

Send out an anonymous survey to capture what’s on your employees’ minds and ask what would help them. You can then use this feedback to create a personalised support offering that meets employees’ needs. 
See our How to get your financial wellbeing programme started in 3 simple steps video guide for tips on getting employee feedback. 

Signpost to clear and simple guidance

Reduce any potential barriers that may be preventing employees from seeking help by signposting to easy-to-understand guidance.  

MoneyHelper, for instance, contains loads of impartial guidance on a wide range of financial topics including everyday spending, buying a house, and saving into a pension. 

Remember to point people towards your employee assistance programme or any support networks you may have too. By making employees aware of the support on offer, it could help them feel less alone and more comfortable opening up.

Help employees manage their day-to-day finances

If people don't know how to begin managing their money, there's a risk they may avoid their financial problems – which could make things worse.

You can help by pointing employees towards tools to help them get better acquainted with everyday spending. MoneyHelper includes online calculators and comparison tools to help employees navigate different areas of their financial world, including credit cards, mortgages, and pensions. 

For more information on how to support your employees’ financial wellbeing, take a look at our financial wellbeing articles for some ideas and inspiration. 

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In partnership with Standard Life

Standard Life are part of Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business. We both share an aligned ambition to help every customer enjoy a life full of possibilities.

Contact us today