Two-thirds of employees do not feel comfortable talking about their finances at work, despite a fifth struggling to make ends meet.
Research published by Business in the Community as part of its 2019 Mental Health at Work report found that only 5% of employees believe there is financial support available in their workplace.
Feeling unable to cope financially was highest among 18 to 29-year-olds (26%) and women (23%), compared to 19% of men. More than a third said they would spend more money if they felt down, particularly younger workers (18 to 29), of whom 44% felt this to be the case.
Just over a quarter (28%) of workers in their 50s said feeling down led them to spend more money.
BITC has published a toolkit for employers to offer better support to employees struggling with financial problems.
Its recommendations include: engaging senior leaders to “understand the lived experiences of people who may be struggling”; to identify the needs of low earners; and to promote culture change so employees feel more comfortable talking about money.
Research from Salary Finance, which supported BITC with the toolkit, has found that productivity lost due to financial concerns can be as much as 9% to 13% of total salary costs.
Furthermore, employees worried about money are 50% more likely to be looking for a job, it found.
Nicola Inge, employment campaign director at Business in the Community, said: “Employers need to create the kind of environment that breaks down the barriers around people talking about money to help all their employees.
“We need more employers to take a different approach to their employee benefits packages to make sure that they are meeting the needs of their whole workforce and getting the most value from the benefits they offer.”
Dhiren Master, global insights director at Salary Finance said that low financial wellbeing often correlates with poor mental health, so employers needed to offer a better support system.
“People who have low financial wellbeing don’t need to be told what they need to do. They need practical support that will enable them to get out of the situation they are in,” he said.
“We believe there is a critical and unique role that every employer can play. Employers that put wellbeing at the heart of their business objectives and work collaboratively with their employees will see a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. This issue will not go away on its own and the time for employers to act is now.”