Towergate Health & Protection is calling for employers to do more to helpbuild financial resilience in the workplace, and support workers struggling with debt.
With the average household having an average of £15,000 in unsecured debts, Towergate says this is a problem affecting workers across all generations. It points out that when staff struggle with financial pressures it can have a significant impact on wellbeing, which impacts the workplace through loss of productivity and absenteeism
According to the Bank of England, private debt held by individuals now totals £1.5 trillion, but Towergate says employers are well placed to build financial resilience.
It says there are specific challenges facing different generations. It says those in the “sandwich generation” are often providing financial support for both children and ageing parents – with the cost of both a university education and care home fees spiralling in recent years.
Towergate says that for this generation it is important to take a holistic approach as financial pressures can create strains on both work and home life.
Employers can do a lot to support staff in helping them to understand what financial support is available to them and encourage them to utilise it.
This can include signposts to services like the Money Advice Service, as well as making the most of any employee assistance programmes offered. EAPs can offer debt management support and access to legal counsel and benefits advice, helping individuals to understand their current financial situation and budget accordingly.
Employers also need to look at the financial needs of millennial workers. Many of those heading into the workplace after after university will have a significant debts.
They are also entering an economy that is being shaped by “gig working” and this can contribute to more unstable personal finances.
Towergates says employers can do a lot to help, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. For instance, providing cash plans to employees, especially during a financially constrained time, can make a little go a long way.
Being able to claim back optical and dental healthcare costs, for example, can enable staff to maintain their health without significantly compromising other financial commitments. Financial education can take this further and help staff learn to manage their finances.
Towergate Health and Protection distribution director Brett Hill says: “Financial woes can vary in extremity, from being in severe debt to needing a gentle tightening of belts to better manage budgets.
“Financial strain can be caused through any number of issues, including gambling addiction, the economic environment or personal circumstances. One thing that is consistent though, is that money management affects everyone at some stage of their lives, and when it doesn’t go to plan it can be a real detriment to wellbeing, and this can be a great disruptor in the workplace.
“Employers can play an important role in supporting employees by helping build financial resilience. From providing financial counselling and legal services when things get serious, to benefits that help employees manage their day-to-day finances, employers have many tools at their disposal to make money management more effective, and this can make a huge difference to staff.”