How to encourage employees to open up about money worries

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Gail Izat

November 06, 2023

3 mins read

Many people are struggling with financial stress – but they’re not seeking the support they need. As we head into Talk Money Week (6–10 November), now’s the perfect time for employers to encourage their employees to open up and ease the pressure.

Ongoing financial uncertainty continues to take its toll on people’s wellbeing. In fact, 1 in 4 say that managing their money has caused them sleepless nights and poor mental health.

This is one of the key takeaways from our Retirement Voice 2023 report, which explores how the nation is feeling about their finances and retirement plans. And it’s clear that many are feeling under significant pressure. 

Whilst many people admit that financial issues have impacted their mental and emotional state, our research shows that the majority (6 in 10) don’t seek support. 

Women in particular are less likely to look for help than men (26% vs. 36%), even though they’re more likely to feel concerned about their financial situation. Our insights show that almost half (47%) of all women feel worried, anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, compared to a third (33%) of men.

Clearly, there’s a sizeable gap in the number of people who are struggling and of those who actively look for support. But why? And what can employers do to help close the gap?

Why seeking support with money worries is important

Getting support and talking about money worries can make a big difference to people’s financial wellbeing and resilience. According to the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) – who run their Talk Money Week campaign every year – people who talk about money:

  • Make better and less risky financial decisions
  • Have stronger personal relationships
  • Help their children form good lifetime money habits
  • Feel less stressed or anxious and more in control

Despite these benefits, the majority of people keep quiet; MaPS research shows that 8 in 10 people avoid discussing their finances. The most common reasons for avoiding talking about money are not wanting to be judged, fear of burdening others, and shame or embarrassment.

What can employers do to help reduce employee financial stress?

It’s important for employers to understand the far-reaching impact that financial stress can have on people’s lives – and on the workplace. Indeed, in our Retirement Voice survey, almost 1 in 10 people say they’ve needed to take time off work as a result of managing their finances.

As we head into this year’s Talk Money Week, why not use it as an opportunity to encourage employees to seek support and open up about their finances? It could help to reduce stress and improve their long-term financial wellbeing. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Send a survey to understand employee needs

For your workplace support package to make the most impact, it’s important to understand what’s worrying your employees. Are expensive bills the most pressing concern? Or are people prioritising getting on the property ladder? The only way to find out is to ask. 

Send out an anonymous survey to capture what’s on your employees’ minds and ask what would help them. You can then use this feedback to create a personalised support offering that meets employees’ needs. 

See our ‘How to get your financial wellbeing programme started in 3 simple steps’ video guide for tips on getting employee feedback. 

Signpost to clear and simple guidance

Reduce any potential barriers that may be preventing employees from seeking help by signposting to easy-to-understand guidance.  

MoneyHelper, for instance, contains loads of impartial guidance on a wide range of financial topics including everyday spending, buying a house, and saving into a pension. 

If you’re with Standard Life for your workplace pension scheme, employees can get access to jargon-free guidance through our digital platform, Money Mindset. It simplifies financial information into bitesize chunks to help employees get a better understanding of money. 

Remember to point people towards your employee assistance programme or any support networks you may have too. By making employees aware of the support on offer, it could help them feel less alone and more comfortable opening up.

Help employees manage their day-to-day finances

If people don't know how to begin managing their money, there's a risk they may avoid their financial problems – which could make things worse.

You can help by pointing employees towards tools to help them get better acquainted with everyday spending. 

Standard Life workplace pension scheme members can access tools like these through Money Mindset, which includes Budget Planner, Spending Insights, and Pension Finder. Using open finance technology, Money Mindset also allows employees to connect and view all their financial accounts in one place, helping them form healthy habits and make confident decisions about their money. 

MoneyHelper also includes online calculators and comparison tools to help employees navigate different areas of their finances, including credit cards, mortgages, and pensions.

For more information on financial wellbeing, including resources on how you can help support your employees, take a look at our Financial Wellbeing hub and read our articles.

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