The cost of living crisis is taking its toll. Under a storm cloud of soaring energy costs, rising inflation and a looming recession, our employees’ financial wellbeing is under significant pressure, highlights Harry Bliss.
The Champion team and I explored the effects of this in our latest landmark report: Cost of Living Crisis: Financial Stress and Employee Wellbeing.
The findings reveal how financial stress is impacting both your employees’ mental and physical health. From HR professionals to business leaders, this should grab the attention of anyone responsible for employee wellbeing. In this article, you’ll discover the findings that resonated deeply with my experience as a people manager and leader, as well as practical steps you can take right now to improve the financial wellbeing of your people.
Revealed: finances are the top cause of stress outside work
Employees report that financial pressure is currently their most common cause of stress outside work. Our previous data set presented relationships as the leading external cause of employee stress, so the influence of financial stress on employee wellbeing is clearly growing.
Over a third of employees surveyed reported that financial pressure was a cause of stress – compared to 32 percent for relationships and 27 percent for parenting.
Clearly, financial wellbeing is front-of-mind for many employees and organisations must take steps to support them.
With that in mind, I urge all employers to provide financial wellbeing support to every employee, either internally or through partnering with external financial coaching providers. For those employers who do not possess the resources to provide financial coaching, you can still signpost towards free external resources like the UK government’s Money and Pension’s Service.
How financial stress affects your health
The relationship between money and mental health is well documented. Our data reflects this, but it also reveals a relationship between financial stress and other key health areas, such as sleep and productivity.
These findings highlight how all areas of health and wellbeing are linked – from sleep to stress, physical health to financial wellbeing. Leaders must therefore develop and utilise holistic approaches to workplace health. These strategies must provide support across all areas of wellbeing, rather than addressing financial wellbeing, or any area other area, in silo.
No two employees will experience the cost of living crisis in the same way. By providing support for many areas of wellbeing, you will be closer to addressing the unique challenges of your people.
Financial wellbeing: the young are hit hardest
Young people are often hit hardest by financial crises. This was true for the 2008 recession, it was true for the pandemic, and it is true once again during this cost of living crisis.
Our data reveals that employees between the ages of 25-34 are currently far more likely to experience financial stress compared to their older counterparts, particularly those above the age of 44.
Interestingly, research by Aviva shows that younger employees are also more likely to seek and engage with financial wellbeing support. Engaging employees with support offerings is often one of HR’s toughest challenges – but young employees are eager to engage.
This means that, with the right support and the right communication, your financial wellbeing support is primed to make a significant impact on one of the demographics most at-risk of poor financial wellbeing.
Turning insight into action
When the team and I at Champion Health first analysed the data, it confirmed what we had learnt from working on the ground with organisations.
The picture it painted was one of a workforce under pressure. Just as the world began to return to something resembling normality, new global crises have emerged, giving our employees little respite from stress and its effect on their wellbeing.
Having said that – there is something to be positive about. Whether you are in HR, wellbeing or rewards and benefits, you can make a difference.
Whether that is empowering your teams with financial expertise or committing to supporting all areas of wellbeing – you can support your teams at a time when they really need it.
Harry Bliss is the CEO and co-founder of Champion Health.
Harry Bliss is the CEO and co-founder of Champion Health. In 2018, he set out on a mission to make healthier easier, for everyone. Since then, he has worked towards making wellbeing inclusive, engaging and accessible for the people that power leading organisations.