Where mental health was once taboo and under-reported, the dial has been switched completely with journalists keen to emphasise the scale of the issues facing people in the UK today.
A quick Google search returns a swathe of studies linking financial concerns with stress and eventually under-performance at work. For example:
- Although measures of people’s money-related anxiety reached a three-year low in 2018, about 10.3 million people – a fifth of the UK’s population – reported high anxiety, and this proportion has remained roughly constant since 2014.
- Citizens Advice figures show that 39 per cent of people with overdraft issues have mental health difficulties, as opposed to 24 per cent of the group’s usual clients.
- According to a study of 10,000 employees by Salary Finance, those with money worries are:
• 7.6 times more likely to not finish daily tasks
• 2.2 times more likely to be looking for another job
• Taking 1.5 sick days a year due to financial stress
• 3.8 times more likely to have anxiety and panic attacks
• 4.9 times more likely to suffer from depression
Making the financial case for wellbeing services
For paternalistic employers the thought of their employees suffering with mental health issues is enough of a driver to facilitate means of addressing their concerns.
However, these types of statistics are starting to hit home with those who have not previously believed it to be an issue for employers. When you tot up the financial cost to a business of a single person being off work for a day and a half, doing 4 days work when it might take another 5 and taking time out for depression, it could amount to a substantial sum. Potentially thousands a year for someone on the average wage, which would hurt any business.
There’s also the legal side to consider. People with mental health problems fit are classed as having a disability so have to be treated in accordance with the Equality Act (2010) and the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) so they must be treated equally. Fostering a culture where employees can feel comfortable talking to their manager about their mental health problems can be a challenge so it pays to put services in place to help with this.
What can employers do to combat financial stress?
In recent years there has been an expansion of financial wellbeing services offered in the workplace.
The primary goal of these services is to reduce stress by proactively tackling financial wellbeing issues. Innovations like debt management via salary deductions are helping employees to pay off debts and similarly, those with anxiety over their inability to save can now do so via the same method. There are also services whereby employees can take a loan out at competitive rates and repay via their salary.
Wren Sterling’s employee benefits advisers can help you select the most appropriate partner for your workforce as everyone offers something slightly different.
It also helps to give employees access to employee assistance programmes (EAPs) which are now commonplace with many Group Risk policies. If your Group Risk policy doesn’t include this it might be time to look again as they’re increasingly commonplace.
Furthermore, training for managers to identify signs of stress in the workforce can be a big benefit. Working with your employee benefits consultant and the providers we recommend can help you put an action plan in place for you to have a healthier workforce.