More than half of employees with financial worries say they underperform at work, according to new research.
MetLife said this showed these financial problems were causing significant problems for employers and were a ‘hidden epidemic’ for those tacking workplace wellness.
MetLife research has found more than half (55 per cent) of employees with financial problems admit they achieve less at work than they would like, while nearly two out of three (66 per cent) of those with financial worries show signs of poor mental health.
At its ‘Rethinking Employee Financial Wellbeing Symposium’ MetLife says employers can address these issues by adopting techniques from behavioural economics which do not need major investment but can deliver short- and long-term business benefits.
MetLife’s own data shows nearly two out of five (39 per cent) of employees live from payday to payday and 60 per cent are concerned about job security.
MetLife UK’s employee benefits director Adrian Matthews says: “A comprehensive approach to employee mental health has to include efforts to support financial wellbeing across the workforce. Employers are uniquely positioned to help.”
But he points out that there is not a single thing that will address the issue in totality.
“Financial education on its own is not sufficient, especially for people under stress or suffering poor mental health. The sheep dip approach where everyone gets a 15- or 20-minute talk needs to be a thing of the past.”
He says financial wellbeing is driven by a combination of being in control; having the capacity to withstand financial shocks; confidence in the future; and choices on how to spend and save. He adds that if any of these are missing financial resilience is weakened.
Actions to help promote financial wellness can be relatively low-tech and do not involve major investment, the symposium heard. Changing financial behaviour can be as simple as amending communications and forms as well as adapting scripts for call centres.
Employees need to buy in to the process and solutions for their financial issues need to be signposted and focused on progress and commitment. Behavioural techniques such as closing the intention behaviour gap and leveraging social norms to help drive good habits can help.
However, experts advised that the key issue is to have the conversations about financial worries and increase engagement with staff about benefits and how employers can help.