REBA Inside Track: prevent financial worries from evolving into a mental health problem
When does a money worry become a more impactful mental health problem? The answer is as broad as it is long, but there is one absolute: a small niggling concern over the bills, if left unchecked, could grow into something much bigger.
Research by Opinium, on behalf of MetLife UK, found that more than two-thirds of workers (64%) have felt stressed, anxious or depressed because of their financial situation. Additionally, just under a third (31%) reported a loss of sleep as a result of financial worries, while one in five (21%) said they felt mentally or physically exhausted.
The figures show that financial concern has a direct and detrimental impact on employee wellbeing, and can negatively impact mental health – alongside the health of their loved ones, as 15% said their financial situation has put strain on their relationships and caused arguments.
Not every employee who experiences financial difficulty will also have poor mental health. However, as more employees shift to hybrid working patterns and new ways of working, it will becoming increasingly difficult for employers to recognise when employees may be experiencing stress, be it mental or financial. Keeping tabs on people’s financial health if you have a hybrid workforce can be more challenging for several reasons:
- it’s harder to identify if someone is stressed remotely
- there’s little to no opportunity for a casual face-to-face chat
- hybrid workers have different costs to contend with than site-based workers, but both are facing increased spend.
Financial wellbeing strategies, education and support are vital to help shoulder some of the burdens that come with financial woes, and organisations should be mindful of the symbiotic link between healthy finances and positive mental wellbeing. While the stigma around mental health has been eroded, talking about our individual financial situation is still a taboo subject, with many reluctant to admit they need help. As a result, there is work to be done to remove these barriers.
Tips to support colleagues to maintain or improve their financial wellbeing:
- provide financial education to help employees better understand their money and learn new ways to save, budget and foster resilience
- encourage transparent and candid discussions about money worries wherever possible
- invest in financial wellbeing tools, such as savings calculators and financial wellbeing apps to help workers take control of their finances
- explore employee benefit options that may be useful within your organisation, and use pulse surveys or employee network groups to gauge what they will find most useful
- consider benefits that will drill down on the cost of living crisis and help pay go further, such as flexible discount platforms.
If you have the right strategies in place, with regular communications around financial wellbeing, you could prevent someone in your organisation from undergoing additional stress after what has been an already difficult two to three years.