How can employers help relieve financial burdens facing their employees?

Covid-19 | Covid-19 Advice | Reports

Mark Abrams, CEO at Auriga, on how employers can put measures in place to help employees struggling financially

Sadly, with all that’s going on around coronavirus, employees’ may be feeling under pressure in some aspects of their life. Whether it be physically, mentally or financially.

When you see the results from a survey saying over two-thirds of employees in the UK are currently feeling worried, stressed or anxious about their finances, it’s quite frightening.

Worryingly, the survey, carried out by HR Grapevine, also revealed 19% of UK employees save nothing each month and 20% only save up to £50. These stats highlight the financial difficulties facing some employees and they need help.

Each employee’s circumstances will be different and some may not feel confident in speaking to their employer about their financial situation.

In separate findings, and not related to the virus, research conducted by Salary Finance has found only 10% of employees struggling with their finances would feel comfortable talking about their situation with work colleagues.

Employees should feel comfortable speaking to their employer whether it be about financial problems or any other issues.

There are many ways in which an organisation can support their employees who may be struggling financially.

Steps employers can take

Employers can put things in place to help, such as signposting to debt support, providing advice through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), communicating support available from the government such as mortgage holidays and protection for renters, and offering hardship grants.

Employers need to remember that EAPs don’t just offer support for emotional issues – they can be an excellent resource to support financial issues too. Money problems and mental health can be linked. Research shows over 1.5 million people living in England are experiencing both problem debt and mental health problems.

Employees worried about their finances could have an impact on company performance and productivity. Statistics from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, show one in four employees claim financial difficulties are impacting their ability to do their job, with one in ten saying they find it hard to concentrate and make decisions at work because of money worries.

Managing your finances

It’s natural that some of your employees will be feeling anxious about their financial situation during this challenging time.

We’re working with BHSF on providing independent and confidential money management advice for employees.

If you have employees who are genuinely worried about paying their bills, encourage them to get in touch with their energy and water suppliers or bank, they will have measures in place to help customers struggling.

British Gas has confirmed it’s removing late payment charges for those struggling financially. Trade body Water UK are working with water firms to arrange payment breaks, payment holidays and more for those struggling. Making minor tweaks can make a difference, such as lowering your thermostat by one degree and putting extra clothing on.

Employees may have also booked package holidays. As an employer, remind them of their rights. In an interview with BBC News, Association of British Travel Agents said people have the right to a refund for cancelled package holidays, but payments would take longer than the 14 statutory days. If your flight is cancelled, you are also entitled to a full refund to your original form of payment, within seven days.

Putting a budget in place could lead to better financial health. No matter how big or small your budget is, not overspending is a really important habit to get into. It’s all about knowing your limits and using your money wisely.

Be realistic when it comes to spending your money. By setting achievable goals and thinking about your financial goals, it can be a big motivator.

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