The Financial Wellbeing: The Last Taboo in the Workplace study surveyed more than 2,000 employees and 100 employers, and was conducted on behalf of Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions and Barclays Workplace Banking. It revealed that lost productivity, as a result of employees’ financial worries, could cost businesses as much as 4% of their payroll. 

It’s worrying news. Almost half of the employees surveyed (46%) said they worried about their finances, and just over one-third (35%) felt optimistic about their financial future. A further 18% said they often lose sleep worrying about their finances. And it’s common-sense to realise that, when financial problems are affecting employees at home, it will also affect their behaviour in the workplace, which can lead to a lack of concentration and falling productivity.

Employers can, and should, do more to help

The same survey revealed that whilst just over two-thirds (69%) of employers believed that employees felt the business was concerned about their financial well-being, however, in reality only one in 10 (10%) employees felt the business was concerned about their financial well-being.

Of course, a regular steady salary helps employees budget, but that alone does not account for financial well-being. Employees need the knowledge and capacity to be able to manage their personal finances, and save for the future.

This was highlighted by the survey, which found that the majority of employees (59%) were being forced to concentrate on managing their day-to-day financial position rather than saving for the future. And worryingly, more than one in ten (11%) respondents fell into the ‘slipping’ category. This meant that they had no savings and were regularly spending more than they earned.

How long an employee’s savings pot would last in the event of not working was seen as the biggest predictor of financial well-being, even more important than household or individual income.

Tangible ways employer can help

Employers can help in two ways. Firstly, by providing greater support to their employees in order to help them manage their day-to-day finances, and secondly by providing financial education, such as pensions, savings and tax planning, and support through an Employee Assistance Programme. 

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

EAPs offer employees free, confidential and independent advice and support to help them deal with any issues affecting their work, personal or family lives.

Employers who offer EAPs recognise the commercial impact of the programmes: by reducing the impact of personal issues that an employee may encounter, such as debt or stress, you can substantially reduce the negative impact of such issues on their productivity, efficiency and overall behaviour at work.

Other employee benefits

There are a range of employee benefits that can help employees manage their day-to-day finances. Benefits such as high street discounts and childcare vouchers can make a significant impact on the living costs of the employee, as well as cashback cards.

cashback card works by an employee pre-loading a set amount onto the card each month, and then they receive between 3-5% cashback when they use the card at certain high street and online retailers. By loading a set amount of their salary onto the card each month, it can help employees budget, and they could earn over £500 a year cashback on their spending.

Improving systems

There are also a number of little things that employers can do to ease the financial worries of employees. Things such as simplifying the expenses system, and paying expenses on time, can have a significant impact on improving employees’ financial well-being.

What could your organisation do to improve your employees’ financial well-being?

Kuljit Kaur

Kuljit is responsible for business development at The Voucher Shop, a  division of p&mm ltd. Your one stop shop for corporate vouchers and gift cards for employee benefits, recognition or rewards.