With the UK’s debt crisis becoming an all too familiar story, HR professionals – just like consumers – might be forgiven for turning a blind eye to a problem the UK has faced for some time.
But the signs of strain are now beginning to spill over into the workplace – as money sickness syndrome takes its toll – and it’s high time HR professionals paid the issue some serious attention.
As one Personnel Today reader recently pointed out, (Letters, 26 February, and opposite) employee debt can have “dire consequences” on productivity, yet “employers seem to be slow in addressing this issue”.
No doubt you have been pondering the issue, but now the publication of the Thoresen report – which hints that the employer has a leading role to play in helping individuals – should give you the impetus you need to actually do something about it in your organisation.
While all this seems incredibly laudable, you might argue whether it’s even fair that employers should have to foot the bill for an employee’s mismanagement of their personal finances. But as reports about spiralling personal debt come thick and fast, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to pass this off as a social issue employers shouldn’t meddle in.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that it only affects the younger generations or lower income families – it affects all classes and incomes.
It’s only a matter of time before your employee financial distress has a negative effect on performance. If, indeed, it is not already eating away at the bottom line.
So how far should employers go in educating and supporting their employees in financial matters? Whether you choose to a launch a full debt counselling service, offer money management courses, point employees to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or collaborate with local businesses to get loyalty discounts for employees, you can send a message that you care.