Financial wellbeing – support for employees
Money troubles have been on the rise for years – but with vulnerabilities expected to worsen due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to tackle financial wellbeing in the workplace. Bank Workers Charity explains the current situation and resources available to help employers support their staff’s financial health.
“Over the last three years, in their employee wellbeing strategies, UK businesses have given much greater prominence to the financial wellbeing of their people. It’s been estimated that the financial problems of employees cost a business four percent of productivity, so it’s in the interest of employers, just as much as employees, for businesses to provide financial wellbeing programmes.
The evidence has long been mounting that personal finances in the UK are in trouble. Back in 2012, the numbers of people in poverty who were in work, exceeded, for the first time, those who were unemployed and that has remained true ever since. And in 2017, The Resolution Foundation provided an explanation of why so many were struggling. The preceding decade had seen the slowest wage growth since Napoleonic times, whilst basic living costs, especially rents and mortgages soared.
Clearly, many people’s finances were precarious, with large numbers having little in the way of a financial safety net. Indeed, in 2019/20, financial specialists Neyber found that 52% of employees were having to borrow to pay day-to-day living costs, leaving them vulnerable to an adverse turn of events. And that duly came to pass with the global Coronavirus pandemic.
There is also a vicious circle at the heart of all of this and it centres on the well-documented relationship between financial problems and mental health issues. The pandemic has already been very heavily researched and the mental health of employees has come under great scrutiny. The evidence suggests that their mental health has taken a big hit for a variety of reasons, with financial worries being one of the biggest contributory factors. And the problem with that, is that poor mental health leaves people less well equipped to perform well in their job but also less able to manage the other complexities in their lives and to adjust to whatever the post-pandemic world looks like.
At the Bank Workers Charity, through our work supporting the wellbeing of current and former bank employees, we see, on a daily basis, how these financial and psychological trends, translate into real life hardship. During the pandemic we have seen the often profound impact on personal finances when employees, or their family members, lose their jobs, are furloughed or are forced to reduce their hours.
One of the biggest hurdles people face in accessing support is the stigma associated with having financial problems. This means they’re often reluctant to seek help until their finances are in dire shape, when doing so earlier would have made their situation much easier to address. We see this particularly in our own community, the banking sector, where there appears to be an additional sense of shame attached to working for a bank and appearing not to be able to manage money.
With so many employees’ finances on a knife edge, it’s important for businesses to use their financial wellbeing programmes to encourage them to seek help early.
Below are some examples of support services and resources available to individuals who may be experiencing financial problems:
- The Bank Workers Charity website contains interactive tools like the Financial Resilience Check, as well as guides on Budgeting and Debt, with action plans to help those who may be in debt. We’re also able to, in certain circumstances, make grants to support people in financial difficulties.
- City Advice is an expert advice service commissioned by the City Corporation and delivered by Tonybee Hall. It provides free advice to anyone working, living or studying in the Square Mile on a range of issues, including finances, debt, welfare and more. Visit the City Advice website to find out more, call 020 7392 2919 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stepchange Debt Charity support individuals in debt, but also provide money management advice around way of maximising income. They have an online interactive tool, Debt Remedy, which is supported by phone and LiveChat, and makes recommendations tailored to individual circumstances.
- MoneySavingExpert have a very wide-range of content covering financial concerns of those in salaried employment, self-unemployment, on furlough, unemployed or working part-time.
- Money Advice Service provide information on what to do and where to go for support with money matters during the Coronavirus pandemic. Their Money Navigator Tool provides instant help based on individual circumstances.”
The Bank Workers Charity (BWC) exists to help bank employees and their families across the UK. They do this by providing information, advice, expert support and, in some cases, financial help. They are independent of banks, and all services are provided free of charge and in confidence. Visit www.bwcharity.org.uk or call them on 0800 0234 834.
To find out how BWC can help you support your employees, please email email@example.com