Money and its impact on mental health

 

Up until recent years many employers have felt that their impact over their employees finances stretches only as far as paying them a salary. After that, it’s up to them to deal with their own financial concerns and wellbeing. 

 

It’s a common misconception, but the truth is the exact opposite. We all have a duty of care for our staff, which includes their physical health – having a clean and safe environment to work in, and their mental health – ensuring they’re not overworked and have access to support when needed. However, where businesses often fall short is recognising the need to provide financial support to their employees. 

 

Money’s role in mental health

The link between mental health and money has been made very clear in recent years. We know that 9.5 million people in the UK have mental health problems caused by their money worries. There are also more than 18 million who worry about their money on a daily basis, and a third of these say that they lose sleep over it. There’s a cycle of anxiety and stress that people with financial issues get caught in: Poor mental health increases money worries <> Money worries make mental health worse. 

On top of the usual financial concerns, we have all been living through unprecedented times recently when it comes to our financial security. There’s a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety about whether things will get back to normal, and what will happen if they don’t. Getting access to credit, mortgages, and other loans is also more difficult than ever, as banks have tightened their lending criteria, which has further complicated matters. 

 

People with debt problems are much more likely to have mental health issues – 46% of them, to be precise. However, recognising the signs of poor mental health in your employees and understanding the root causes is not always easy to do. Your employees may be dealing with a variety of issues in their personal lives which could be impacting their finances – and in turn causing their mental health to decline. Things like large debts, stretched commitments, lack of savings, rising childcare costs, anxieties about the property ladder, family changes, divorce, and partners losing their jobs. 

 

All of these are difficult issues to deal with, and will impact mental health, which in turn affects how well we cope at work and manage our responsibilities. Your employees may start to take more time off work if they are suffering in this way, and will be 7.6x less likely to finish daily tasks. It may even go the other way – employees working late and at weekends and not getting enough rest in their free time because they fear losing their job. 

 

Early intervention is often the best way to alleviate and stop spiralling mental health decline, particularly when it comes to managing their finances.

 

A mental health strategy isn’t enough

Although you may feel that your current mental health strategy and company benefits cover all aspects of wellness, if you don’t offer dedicated financial wellbeing support to your employees, you’ll be missing a key part of supporting good mental health. Financial support and in-work benefits will help your employees to increase their financial knowledge and receive practical guidance and tips on how to create a budget, manage investments and plan for their financial future. 

 

Good financial wellbeing strategies have been shown to have a positive impact on employees’ mental health, where they’re able to feel more in control of their money, resulting in a drop in money-related stress. 

 

The differences between mental health strategies and financial wellbeing strategies are easy to see when you separate them out:

 

Mental health strategies often cover:

  • Emotional counselling and talking therapies
  • Coping with workplace stress
  • Support with conditions like anxiety and insomnia
  • Relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises
  • Exercise advice 
  • Healthy living advice

 

Financial Wellbeing strategies help your employees with:

  • Debt counselling
  • Budgeting guidance and support
  • Coaching to achieve long-term goals
  • Financial education resources
  • Support to increase wealth and security
  • Guidance for protecting health and family

 

The impact on your company 

It’s certainly in the interest of your employees to promote financial wellbeing, but it’s also good for your business. Deloitte has estimated that

“one-sixth of UK workers are experiencing a mental health issue at any one time”

which costs UK businesses £42- 45 billion a year through lost days and reduced productivity. This is in part due to employees spending time thinking about their financial problems, and not being able to focus on their work. It’s estimated employees with money worries lose up to five productive hours each week because they are worrying about money.

 

For businesses that implement a financial wellbeing solution, the results can be dramatic. The most common reaction is to simply increase your employees salary to reduce money worries, but financial concerns affect everyone, regardless of their income bracket. 

 

Instead, by providing your employees with the resources and support they need to learn and manage their money, absenteeism and presenteeism rates can fall. There will also be an uplift in employee retention as well as attracting better talent, while a marked increase in productivity from employees is often typical.

 

One way you can support your employees to increase their financial wellbeing is to create a safe confidential space where talking about money at work doesn’t come with a lot of stigma. Providing 1:1 coaching can build trust between the employer and the employee, and they will feel supported in their efforts to improve their financial security.

 

How we can help

Bippit is here to give your employees access to a confidential and comprehensive support. Our financial wellbeing platform is easy to use, innovative in its design, and packed with expert financial knowledge. Through our service your employees can receive a financial  healthcheck, get matched with a dedicated expert who they will be able to ask questions to at a time that suits them best, create and manage their budget, set trackable money goals, and learn more about pensions, investing, and saving in our unique content library.