EngagementHR leaders struggling to tackle financial wellbeing in the workplace

HR leaders struggling to tackle financial wellbeing in the workplace

There have been many employees who have struggled financially in recent times, additionally, HR departments have struggled to find a solution to this.

With the Christmas period being in full swing, and the new year not being too far away, there have been a significant number of employees in the UK who have raised their concerns relating to their financial situation around this time of the year.

A survey carried at by Neyber found that 35% of employees say they have felt stressed, 26% have lost sleep, 20% have felt depressed, 10% struggle to focus at work and 6% have missed a day at work, specifically because of financial worries. Of these, 40% say the issue creates a negative impact on relationships at work. Through this investigation they also found that 37% of the employees that participated in this survey were said to have put their Christmas presents on credit, further worsening their financial situation.

Because of the potential negative effect that financial worries bring, many have turned to HR departments to solve this issue. However, in the same study carried out of 10,000 employees and 500 employers, it was revealed that 45% of people in HR believed that employees don’t bring these issues up in the workplace.

Heidi Allan, head of employee wellbeing at Neyber, said, “It will be no surprise to know that this time of year is particularly problematic. According to debt advice charity National Debtline, 37% of employees put Christmas expenses on credit last year, so although this is not the employer’s issue, there is great scope to support staff with financial wellbeing and education so they can start 2019 in the best possible way. There has quite rightly been great concern in the HR market in the last year, so it is positive that so many are helping employees where they can.”

When finding out what employees thoughts were on this situation. Pension and insurance company Aegon, ran an investigation on this in an attempt to find a link between financial issues and productivity, through this investigation they found that 70% of the employees they interviewed would find general information highlighting steps to improve their financial wellbeing useful, while 64% said the same about face-to-face counseling and support around debt management.

Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, said: “Employees have told us that poor financial wellbeing is harming their productivity at work. Now employers are adding significant weight to the evidence on this issue.

“Poor financial wellbeing is not only stressful for individuals – it’s costing employers millions of working days a year and billions to the economy. Clearly, companies want to do more to provide the help their employees need. We need to start a ‘win-win’ conversation about this issue so employees know where they can receive support, and employers feel empowered to give it.

Although it is apparent that financial wellbeing is a stark issue that needs to be addressed, only four in ten employees in HR felt that they were prepared to offer this financial support if workers in the UK were more open with their worries.

Neyber’s report found that three in ten employers have a well-developed wellbeing strategy, encompassing personal finance, retirement planning, and employee benefits, however, a further 20% said they have no strategy at all, and while 17% of those are considering it, 12% have no plans to introduce one at all.

Heidi finished by saying “It is a widely known fact that employees often struggle to manage finances, which can be a very lonely feeling. The research shows 7% don’t know who to turn to and 16% handle it on their own. Perhaps not surprisingly, just 3% would go to their HR team or 5% to a manager, but it is possible for HR and employers to create a supportive environment for staff without going to great expense themselves.”

Following on from Aegons research, they are calling for an increase in awareness of this topic, a huge shift in mindset so much so that financial wellbeing is seen as just as important as physical and mental wellbeing. They are also requesting much greater support for employers so that they can offer this financial education for their workforce, as well as effective tools implemented so that they can plan their financial future with confidence.

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