This year, our DNA of Financial Wellbeing research went further than ever before. We surveyed over 11,000 employees, spanning the length and breadth of the country across all industries. We also heard from more than 700 employers on their views about financial wellbeing in the workplace.
In total, over the past four years that we’ve run the DNA of Financial Wellbeing Report, Neyber has heard from over 42,000 people, making DNA the largest research of its kind.
It’s fair to say that when this journey began, and when Neyber began in 2014, financial wellbeing wasn’t a term that many employers would have recognised. But fast-forward to 2019, and we have moved from "What is financial wellbeing and should we be doing it?" to "What's the best way of doing it?"
State of the Nation
- Most employees struggle to reach payday
- Higher paid employees impacted too
- Financial worries impact stress, anxiety, sleep and depression
Financial worries are once again the top concern of UK employees, with three in five individuals feeling the strain this year. What’s more, they’re worrying about their later life and retirement too – this is their second biggest concern.
Not surprisingly, financial worries are taking a toll on people. One in three employees have felt stressed, one in three have felt anxious, one in four have lost sleep and one in five have felt depressed.
Those impacted are not just lower-paid, as people with the highest salaries are worrying too. Monica Kalia, our Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder, said:
Across the UK, an estimated 20.3 million workers are affected by money worries. And these worries are not just confined to the young or lower paid in the workforce. Although money worries do decrease with income, almost half (46%) of employees earning over £70,000 per year are affected too. Nearly half of those aged up to 64 are saying they are affected by money worries.
Money worries are not just a low-income problem; this graph shows people in each income group who say they are affected by money worries.
Just over half (52% vs 50% last year) of those researched have to borrow money to meet basic financial needs. Twenty-seven per cent use credit cards to get by, building on the issue regularly. Just 2% borrow from their employer, perhaps through a loan or payroll lending.
On top of this, many employees can’t save because they don’t have the spare income. This can cause issues if something unexpected happens and can lead to more debt. Of those with no savings, 80% have debt to repay.
Our report also shows that:
- For those who have debt, the average amount is £7,555, around a third of their annual salary.
- 36% say they sometimes or often struggle to pay off credit cards.
- 45% run out of money between pay cheques.
- One in three people have £1,000 or less in savings.
- One in four people don’t save regularly and of those that do, the most common amount saved is less than £50 each month.
- One in four people would be able to cover their regular expenses for less than a month if they lost their income.
Later life is a big worry too
The DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2019/2020 shows that employees aren’t just worrying about today. Later life and retirement plans have risen in importance from third to second place in the biggest concerns of employees, taking over from physical health which was last year’s second biggest concern. Just one in three employees believe they can look forward to a good lifestyle in retirement and nearly a third (29%) aren’t aiming to save for retirement.
Employers are starting to get it
Employers have started to recognise how important financial wellbeing truly is. Nearly three-quarters now have a financial wellbeing strategy in place - although only around half are confident that it is well-developed.
More concerningly - employers seem to be doing this as a 'nice to have', or something that benefits only employees. This year's research showed the cost that poor financial wellbeing has on the UK economy:
- 1.6 million employees taking time off work; costing £478 million
- Nearly 3 million employees struggling to focus at work; costing £516 million
- 3.6 million employees looking for a new job because of money worries; a potential cost of £14.2 billion in turnover.
Ultimately, not prioritising employee financial wellbeing could be costing UK employers a grand total of £15.2 billion each year.
Fixing the problem requires deeper understanding
To understand employee financial needs, we have developed five financial wellbeing stages for every individual, regardless of age, income or gender. Almost half of British workers are in groups one to three. The groups are:
- Getting started – where employees tend to run out of money before pay day.
- Taking control – where employees may need to borrow, and struggle to pay off credit cards.
- Finding balance – employees aren’t borrowing to meet financial commitments, but they are still paying off credit cards and don’t have enough of an emergency savings buffer
- Building resilience – employees are in control of debt they have and feel they have enough for things they enjoy; they have an emergency fund to cover at least three months’ wages.
- Planning ahead – employees are financially comfortable, with savings and retirement plans in place. They may be investing and can spend money without causing a financial strain.
Providing support that is relevant to the differing needs of employees is an important part of an employer’s support. Financial wellbeing is not just about paying off debt, but about ensuring employees feel in control and confident about their future as well.