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Two thirds of workers say financial insecurity contributes to poor mental health

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Two-thirds of people say their mental health and wellbeing is affected by financial insecurity relating to job, economy and living cost concerns.

Employees are struggling to deal with the demands and insecurities of the workplace, with a quarter struggling to make ends meet and less than half are satisfied with their current financial situation.

In a survey of 4,000 people, two thirds said their mental health and wellbeing is affected by job security (66%), the state of the economy (65%) and the cost of living (77%).

The poll, carried out by Business in the Community and Mercer, also revealed that three-fifths of people suffered loss of sleep, stress, lack of concentration and tiredness.

For one in eight, they believe they could lose their job within the year.

In total, 56% of employees are reluctant to talk about money issues at work, though the survey revealed a quarter are likely to talk to their manager about mental health issues.

Just 17% of those polled said they believed their employer supports those with financial difficulties.

But on the flip side, 85% of managers said employee wellbeing was their responsibility, though 68% believed barriers exist to providing support for staff. Nearly seven in 10 line managers said they hadn’t received any training to deal with mental health issues in the workplace.

Louise Aston, wellbeing director, Business in the Community, said: “There is a two-way causal relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health, but very few employers support employees experiencing financial difficulties.

“There is huge financial pressure on employees, with stagnant wages and living costs which continue to rise, so employers have an important role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting them to appropriate sources of professional support.

“Although there has been slow incremental improvement of overall mental health at work over the past three years, collective and urgent action by employers is needed to build momentum quickly, taking a ‘whole person’ approach to physical, mental, financial and social health and wellbeing.”

How employers can support financial wellbeing

The group said employers should disclose policies relating to pay advances, hardship loans, time off to sort financial issues, travel loans, access to employee assistance plans and money counselling, for instance.

It’s also an idea to make available salary deducted savings to help employers create a financial buffer, offering salary-deducted lower cost loans.

Workers should also be signposted to organisations that offer free help and guidance on money issues such as Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Step Change