Many of us have experienced money worries at different times of our lives and will appreciate how severely they can impact on our wellbeing. Symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression and even physical conditions can be linked to financial concerns.
As employers we all know how this can translate to the workplace: staff find it hard to perform at their best, sick days increase and there is an impact on morale as other employees have to make up the shortfall. Social, financial and environmental factors all have an impact on health and wellbeing, but financial issues are the most significant; costing UK organisations in the region of £120.7 billion every year*.
Recent research from the CIPD’s (April 2016) found the top three causes of stress in workers lives are money worries (22 percent), the nature of their job, such as pressure of working hours (22 percent), and family and relationship issues (20 percent). Therefore, we believe that to maintain and increase employee engagement, retention, productivity and morale, financial wellbeing needs to be part of your overall wellbeing strategies.
To this end we have recently partnered with Neyber, a finance company that provides affordable loans to employees. Neyber recently released a groundbreaking new report looking at the financial wellbeing of the UK’s workforce: The DNA of Financial Wellbeing. It makes very interesting reading, with no industry or sector exempt from the effects of personal financial worries on their staff. However, the healthcare sector is a cause for concern. Neyber’s survey of 10,000 UK workers included 1,000 in the healthcare sector.
They estimate that 68 percent of NHS staff are affected by financial stress, with a staggering 91 percent of those on a salary of £30,000-£39,000 admitting that they have been impacted in the past 12 months. The majority of workers (53 percent) said that being under financial pressure affects their ability to perform their job, rising to as much as 71 percent for 18-24 year olds. Neyber’s findings also underlined the lack of a savings safety net should health workers face any unexpected financial outlays. For example, 36 percent of those in England have less than one month’s savings to sustain their lifestyle should their income cease.
It’s all very well saying that your wellbeing strategies need to take into account employees’ personal financial worries, but what can an employer actually do? Short of giving everyone a bonus and pay rise, what practical steps can UK organisations take? One way is to look at salary sacrifice schemes and other benefit packages that save your employees money on the things they buy. In this blog we often talk about the importance of offering relevant incentives to your staff. This means that even if your organisation is nationwide, staff in different locations will benefit from schemes that are tailored to their needs.
For example, gym memberships schemes are a great way of improving employee wellbeing and saving your staff money: if they live or work in an area within easy access of a gym. If not, that scheme is worthless to your employees but others might be more appropriate such as a car leasing solution. Another important aspect of your wellbeing strategy is to match schemes and benefits with your employees’ income and lifestyle choices. For a junior member of staff living in the inner city, a car scheme may be unaffordable and impractical, whereas savings on their weekly supermarket shop or technology purchases would make them better off and give them cash in their pocket.
As Neyber’s report identifies many employees do not have a safety net for dealing with unexpected financial outlays. If their car breaks down (and it’s not part of a car leasing scheme) they may have a serious problem getting to work and keeping their job if they haven’t got the funds to repair it. Even if there is no direct knock-on effect on their ability to do their job, the worry and stress caused by unexpected money problems can force employees to look for a solution that might impact on their performance. For example, taking on a second job, doing more hours to the detriment of their health, or taking out expensive loans that may exacerbate their financial concerns.
This is where access to affordable loans, provided via their employer, can help employees take control of their finances, and also reduce the negative effects of financial issues in the workplace. Through our partnership with Neyber we can now provide employers with affordable borrowing schemes that allow their employees to manage their finances, consolidate their debts, reduce financial stress, and maximise productivity and morale in the workplace.