This week is mental health awareness week. Hurray, I hear you shout!
As a nation, us Brits have a reputation for choosing to muddle through and deal with troubled times with a stiff upper lip. Historically, we would rather switch a conversation to how much rain is likely to fall at the weekend, rather than talk about our feelings.
Thankfully, the ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach is starting to evolve. The media spotlight on mental wellbeing has started national conversations on the importance of talking about our emotions and has even started to impact how our workplaces function.
The fact is, our lives are arguably becoming more stressful. The growth of social media has led to a culture of comparison and life in general has become more fast paced. What has not changed, however, is the sheer strain that poverty and financial instability can have on us.
There is little doubt that many of us have experienced anxiety due to financial stress, at some point in our lives. The ‘symptoms’ of financial stress have an unnerving ability to intertwine themselves into our everyday lives. These can include insomnia, poor diet, isolation due to being unable to afford to socialise and the development of a 'scarcity mentality’.
One of the biggest impacts debt and poverty can have on our lives relates to our mental health. A recent study carried out by the University of Singapore discovered that debt actually ‘impairs psychological functioning and decision-making’. The study found that debt can take such a toll on an individual, that focusing on our lack of wealth ‘consumes mental resources, increases anxiety and worsens cognitive performance’. As side effects go, these are painfully hefty.
What, then, can we do to help relieve the psychological burden for lower earners and those in debt? Employers can obviously do their bit by ensuring that they are paying staff a fair wage. Yet, there is more that they can do to help employees who may be struggling with financial anxiety. After all, financial wellbeing is often not defined by an accumulation of great wealth. Instead, monetary strains often stem from a lack of basic understanding of financial matters, causing small issues to snowball.
In light of this, one way employers can help is by incorporating financial education material into their regular internal communications. The topics included can be chosen at the employer’s discretion and cover anything from debt management to state benefits to estate planning. By making educational material readily accessible to their employees, employers can provide staff with information which may help them alleviate financial burdens. It’s good news for employers too; happier staff are proven to produce better results and HR Heads may even see their turnover decrease.
The even better news is, it’s fairly easy for employers to implement financial wellbeing campaigns; companies can even use wider financial education material to optimise their internal pensions communications strategy. If this hits home, it may be worth taking a look at our 7-step process.
Although financial education material can help decrease the financial strains felt by staff, it is naïve to think that this material alone will salve employees’ worries in one fell swoop. As with general mental wellbeing programmes at work, knowing where to signpost staff who need support can have a significant, positive impact. We realise that, with the best will in the world, HR departments have enough on their plates and are not infinite sources of information. Therefore, being aware of organisations such as The Money Charity, StepChange and Citizens Advice can shift the burden away from HR whilst nudging staff towards organisations with the expertise to help.
Did you know that 8 out of 10 of those aged 18-34 say they are not on top of their finances? Follow us on Instagram where we talk financial wellness, share stats, and provide simple money saving and money making tips: @psaspire
Topics: Savings And Lifestyle