Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind
A mental health charity outlines how employers can help support their staff’s mental and financial wellbeing during a cost of living crisis.
The cost of living crisis is taking a heavy toll not just on our wallets but also our mental health. All UK employees are likely to have noticed an unwelcome increase in essential expenditure, but people on low incomes and those who receive benefits because their mental health prevents them from earning enough are among those worst affected.
The relationship between money and mental health can be a vicious circle. People with mental health problems are more likely to experience financial problems and typically earn less, while financial issues can worsen our mental health. Mind’s Infoline has seen a 40% rise, compared to last year, in calls from people experiencing difficulties related to finances such as welfare, unemployment and personal debt.
Only 18% of organisations have a financial wellbeing policy.
Responsibility of employers
Despite the prevalence of financial and mental health concerns across the nation, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), only 18% of organisations have a financial wellbeing policy — either as part of a wider employee health and wellbeing policy (14%) or as a standalone financial wellbeing policy (4%).
Employers should create, update and appropriately resource their financial wellbeing policies, covering things like how the organisation supports employee financial wellbeing; how they intend to create a supportive and inclusive culture; how support and communications will be tailored to different employee groups at various stages of their employee life cycle; and sources of free and impartial external support.
Support with managing finances
Having a sense of control of your personal finances is key to addressing financial anxiety. Educational programmes delivered in-house around budgeting, pensions and planning for retirement can help. However, bear in mind that for many people — especially those on lower incomes — no amount of careful budgeting can help them make impossible spending decisions such as paying bills or putting food on the table. Existing benefits offered to staff — including hardship loans, pay advances, advice services, or financial support such as travel loans — should be well promoted and easy to access.
Employees should be given as much flexibility as possible in terms of hours and location so they can find a working pattern that least impacts their expenses and best supports their wellbeing. Such decisions may factor in the need to spend time with colleagues face-to-face, the costs of travelling to the workplace and the costs of energy consumed while working from home.