How can employers effectively support employee financial wellbeing?

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Many people reading the title of this post will be wondering why is employee financial wellbeing important, and what does it have to do with me as an employer?

Financial worries account for the majority of stress felt by employees in the workplace today, this can be attributed to the rising costs of living combined with the stagnation of salaries. However, the impact that personal finances has on your employee’s health in terms of poor psychological wellbeing, higher stress and anxiety levels, can be felt heavily by the employer such as increased levels of absence and lower levels of productivity.

So is there anything that employers can do to support their employees and improve their  relationships with their personal finances?

As a HR professional, sadly this issue is arising more all the time and a majority of the clients I speak to want to actively support their employee through a difficult time.

Whilst some employers are tempted to lend money to their employee to get them out of a financial hole, this may not always be the answer and can effectively generate an increased level of bad debt so always be careful before doing this and ensure that you have a loan agreement signed by both parties before a loan is paid.

An alternative is to look at what free options are available to support your employee for the long term to change the cycle of debt, such as contacting debt charity StepChange (https://www.stepchange.org) who offer support to those who do not know where to turn. Advice and support may also be available if you have an Employee Assistance Programme in place.

Another way of offering support is to contact your benefits provider if you have one, some will offer financial services and can even do “finance clinics” at your place of work so employee has someone to talk to face to face. If you don’t have this facility, then you could always arrange a finance awareness training session, some major banks can offer such services.

The important thing for employers to take note of is that the days of employees “leaving their problems at the door” no longer exist, so by employers proactively communicating that financial support is available, this firstly makes the employees aware that they are not alone, but secondly, it’s the small actions that make a big difference to people; this can help to support better working relationships, reduce absence due to stress and also improve performance. In summary, it is within the employers interests to ensure that financial issues are not simply swept under the carpet.

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