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20 Jan 2023

How to support teams through financial uncertainty

Organisations need to be equipped with the tools and resources to help meet employee expectations and promote the resilience and financial wellbeing of their teams

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Financial concerns can increase the risk of poor mental and physical wellbeing.

Recent research for the Money & Pensions Service (MaPS), found that 57% of people who had experienced a mental health problem in the previous three years said thinking about their financial situation made them feel anxious.

The research also found that those who had experienced mental health problems in the last three years were:

  • Four times more likely to be behind on important bills (44% versus 11% without a history of mental health issues)
  • Four times more likely to have borrowed money to pay debts (24% compared to 6%)
  • Three times more likely to run out of money for food and bills (32% versus 11%)

Talk openly

Money worries and poor mental wellbeing often go hand in hand. Despite this, many people across the UK generally struggle to talk openly about money.

YuLife and YouGov confirm this. Their research shows:

  • Only one in five (21%) people feel comfortable talking about financial worries with their employer
  • A quarter (24%) say their workplace doesn't do enough to explain the financial support that is on offer

Addressing this gap boosts engagement and can have a positive impact on retention advises Erik Porter, head of financial wellbeing at Wagestream – an employer-provided app that delivers a range of tools to help employees manage their money more effectively by accessing wages as they’re earned.

Audits by Wagestream show:

  • 82% of users feel more positive about their employer 
  • 57% of employees report reduced financial stress
  • There’s a 16% reduction in leavers
  • There’s a 22% increase in hours worked.

Porter says: "We live in a world of monthly bills such as energy and rent which assumes that everyone is paid monthly, has a stable income and is able to effectively budget month to month. Unfortunately for many that’s not the case, which can often lead to people turning to high cost credit, borrowing from family or even illegal money lending."

Research by pension advisers Portafina shows that 43% of disposable wages have been spent within 24 hours of payday, and by day 23 of the monthly pay cycle many employees are at significant risk of not being able to meet unexpected bills.

Porter adds: "Being able to cope with unexpected expenses and access wages when they’re needed means employees can avoid higher cost alternatives such as overdrafts and high-interest loans. Reducing this financial stress means employees are far more focused and productive when they come to work."

Incentive for organisations

YouGov research confirms that 80% of workers say stress around their personal finances affects their performance at work.

Rachel Murray, head of employee health and wellbeing at Bupa says: “Providing more support, and signposting this more clearly, will also give organisations an edge in the competition to recruit and retain talent. This research shows when considering whether to move or stay, 61% of employees factor in their company’s ability or willingness to support their financial wellbeing.”

Steps to success

Organisations need to be equipped with the tools and resources to help meet employee expectations and promote the resilience and wellbeing of their teams.

Organisations should aim to:

  • Create an open culture that allows employees to feel comfortable discussing their mental health. This may include upskilling line managers and signposting information, resources and employee assistance programmes
  • Equip line managers with the training and resources to support their teams. Effective leadership builds effective teams
  • Consider the variety of needs for different generations in the workplace. For instance, in terms of financial support, Gen Zs will be looking for information and support around student loans and getting on the property ladder. In contrast, team members approaching retirement will be looking for ways to protect and maximise their pension
  • Help teams make the most of hybrid working to protect their work-life balance
  • Communicate corporate goals clearly, and make sure team members not only understand what is expected of them, but also feel valued
  • Put people into the right roles, and encourage them to suggest changes if they believe they could be deployed more productively
  • Discourage employees from checking emails or working outside business hours, unless it’s by choice. If possible, allow flexible working for those who prefer it
  • Promote good mental and physical health across the business, and encourage employees to seek help if they are struggling.

Purpose provides stability

Murray adds: “Employers can’t predict or protect against many of the challenges which lie ahead. But by providing purpose and a sense of community within the workplace they can provide a supportive environment which will help teams navigate this new world.”

In partnership with Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives and making a better world.

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