Stress (5)

At least 17.5 million working hours are lost per year by the UK workforce as a result of employees taking time off work due to financial stress, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by financial employee benefits firm Neyber, found that financial stress is now becoming an increasing cause for concern for employers, with 70% of the nation’s workforce admit to wasting a fifth of their time at work worrying about finances, costing the economy and estimated £120.7 billion a year.

In addition, the report reveals a perceived discrepancy between employer and employee attitudes towards financial wellbeing; 67% of employees believe their employer doesn’t care about their financial wellness, and only 3% would turn to their manager or HR department about their financial worries. Yet, according to UK employees, half would value financial assistance from their employer.

Heidi Allan, head of insights and engagement at Neyber, said: “More and more workers are looking to their employer for help with financial matters and this will only increase as more millennials enter the workforce; it’s not a problem that’s going to go away.

“Employers and policy makers must act to address the growing financial wellbeing crisis. Financial education, awareness and understanding are key to making smart, well informed financial decisions.”

Lack of financial wellbeing has a significant impact on the productivity and health of the workforce. More than half (55%) of employees said being under financial pressure affects their behaviour and ability to perform their job in the workplace. 51% say financial pressure affects their relationship with colleagues and 46% say it affects their relationship with their line manager. Poor behaviour and negative relationships can also have significant cost implications for any organisation.

Although financial stress impacts all generations, the situation is most serious among younger workers. The majority of the UK’s workforce will be made up of these younger generations in the next decade, yet 16% of 18-24 year olds have already defaulted on debt repayments, despite poor credit history often hampering future career aspirations. As a result, it’s no wonder that eight in 10 of 18-24 year olds are already suffering adverse effects of these financial worries.

Charles Cotton of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: “Employers can play an active role in supporting their staff’s financial well-being. Today’s businesses need to consider the impact financial worries are having on employee health, happiness and productivity and look at what they can do to help reduce stress levels. Neyber’s report shows that staff would value any support given by their employer.”