One in five employees are struggling to make ends meet financially

  • More than a fifth (21 per cent) of employees say that they struggle to make ends meet financially
  • Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of employees say that they would not feel comfortable talking about their financial situation at work
  • Only one in 20 employees (5 per cent) feel that there is financial support available in their workplace
  • Business in the Community (BITC) and Salary Finance launch toolkit, Ensuring Everyone Benefits: Improving financial wellbeing through employee benefits that work for everyone, for employers to make financial wellbeing more accessible.

Many employees struggle to break the taboo of talking about their financial situation causing a significant impact on their mental health, according to the Mental Health at Work 2019: Time to Take Ownership report, published by BITC, the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits.

Out of 4,000 people surveyed for the report, 21 per cent of employees say they struggle to make ends meet financially, a number highest among 18-29 year olds (26 per cent) and women (23 per cent), compared to 19 per cent of men. More than a third (34 per cent) say that they spend more money when they are feeling down. This again affects the youngest employees the most, with 44 per cent of 18-29 year olds agreeing that they do this compared to just 28 per cent of those in their 50s1.

The principle of good work – employment that offers security, rights and a fair income, opportunity for progression and a supportive and inclusive environment – is key for employers wanting to address these challenges. Employee benefits can be an effective tool to improve the working lives of all your employees.

Business in the Community’s new toolkit, Ensuring Everyone Benefits: Improving financial wellbeing through employee benefits that work for everyone, published today in partnership with Salary Finance, provides guidance for human resources (HR) teams to create an employee benefits package that improves the financial wellbeing of all workers.

Recommendations from the toolkit include:

  • Engage senior leaders. Make the case for change in your business. It is important for senior leaders to understand the lived experiences of people who may be struggling within your workforce, as well as the potential impact of poor financial wellbeing on business performance.
  • Identify the needs of low earners. While an employer knows who within their business is on low pay, they are unlikely to know their total household income, whether they are in debt or struggling with childcare, or whether they are working one or two other roles (high paid or otherwise).
  • Promote culture changes to make it OK to talk about money. As with mental health we need to foster environments where it is OK to not be OK financially. Making changes to the culture of your business will enable other changes around financial wellbeing to be more effective. Invest in internal communications that raise the importance of talking about money, encouraging business leaders and management to share their own experiences and lead by example.

Nicola Inge, employment campaign director at Business in the Community, said:

“Employers need to create the kind of environment that break down the barriers around people talking about money to help all their employees.

“We need more employers to take a different approach to their employee benefits packages to make sure that they are meeting the needs of their whole workforce and getting the most value from the benefits they offer.”

Dhiren Master, global insights director, Salary Finance said:

“In the UK today, people are more stressed about money than their health, career and relationships. This leads to low financial wellbeing, which directly correlates with poor mental health, that in turn impacts significantly on all areas of people’s lives. Therefore, the enormous importance of providing a support system to help employees navigate their money journey can appear overwhelming.

“But it doesn’t need to be. People who have low financial wellbeing don’t need to be told what they need to do. They need practical support that will enable them to get out of the situation they are in. 
“We believe there is a critical and unique role that every employer can play. Employers that put wellbeing at the heart of their business objectives and work collaboratively with their employees will see a happier, healthier and more productive workforce. This issue will not go away on its own and the time for employers to act is now.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

About Business in the Community
Business in the Community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business.

We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to:

  • develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow
  • build thriving communities where people want to live and work
  • innovate to sustain and repair our planet.

About Salary Finance
Salary Finance was Business in the Community’s Responsible Small Business of the Year 2018. It is one of UK’s fastest growing fintech (financial technology) companies focused on financial wellbeing in the workplace. Founded in 2015, its mission is to give people the freedom to lead long-term healthier and happier lives.

References
1. Business in the Community; (2019); Mental Health at Work 2019: Time to Take Ownership; available at https://www.bitc.org.uk/report/mental-health-at-work-2019-time-to-take-ownership/