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Employers remain unaware of crippling money worries – why?


Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

 

 

Ask employers how many of their people worry about money every day and they’ll say 2%. Then ask employees if they worry every day. Almost a quarter (24%) do. Why is there such a disconnect?

Money stigma means worries remain hidden

The number of employees worrying every day about money has risen to 24% from 16% in one year – a rise that doesn’t include the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

Yet 68% of those with money worries responding to Wagestream’s new State of Financial Wellbeing 2022 research said they would not tell their employer about their worries.

Most cite feelings of shame and embarrassment, as well as societal ‘rules’ around talking about money. Because of this, employers just aren’t aware their staff are worrying more.

 

Wellbeing support is going up – but maybe it’s missing the mark?

Close to every employer (93%) says they now have a financial wellbeing policy in place, according to senior HR professionals responding to the State of Financial Wellbeing research – this is up from 51% in a year. Almost nine in 10 (87%) also say Covid-19 has increased their organisation’s focus on financial wellbeing.

This has led 91% of employers to say they provide an environment supportive of employee financial wellbeing. Yet just 52% of employees agree. Employees do want specific support, for example 50% want help with savings in 2022. Yet just 18% of employers are planning additional support in this area. Perhaps there’s a gap between what employees need and what they are being offered.

Rigid pay cycles – but not necessarily a link with money stress?

Employers think most employees worry every few weeks to every month. This is perhaps not surprising as it coincides with common UK pay cycles. Worry certainly can peak around key times in the pay cycle, such as the week before pay day when funds are likely to be scarce – but this is certainly not the most common ‘worry cycle.’

Generally, how much people worry is mediated by various factors such as personality, income, relationship status and more. But it’s relevant that the number of daily worriers is rising, as this suggests that, regardless of how unique worry cycles are, the macro-environment is putting strain on everyone.

 

Time for employers to act – as the cost-of-living crisis bites

It’s likely all these factors are shaping the extent to which employers underestimate how many employees are worrying daily about money. And despite the increase in the number of employees worrying daily about money, it’s likely the number will soar – with the cost-of-living crisis the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s. Employers must re-consider the support they offer and ensure it is both desired and effective.

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