Drop a stone into a pond and you’ll see ripples "spread" out across the whole surface of the water.
When it comes to money problems, the effect is similar. Poor financial wellbeing doesn’t just affect an individual – it has a ripple effect that impacts partners, family members and work colleagues as well.
Neyber’s DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2018 found that 44% of the 10,000 employees surveyed said that financial worries have a negative effect on their behaviour, with 57% saying it affects their relationships at home. Figures from relationship support provider Relate’s research In Too Deep – an investigation into debt and relationships showed that 31% of its users said that debt had contributed to the breakdown in their relationship, and 19% said that it had a ‘considerable impact’ on their relationship with their children.
The impact also extends to friendships. Fifty two percent of respondents to Neyber’s research said that their financial worries had affected their social relationships.
Beyond friends and family, the ‘ripple effect’ also extends to the workplace where 40% said that money concerns have affected their relationships at work. Team work, decision-making and personal productivity are all likely to suffer when an employee is under pressure financially. Over half of respondents under the age of 45 in Neyber’s survey said that they felt financial worries affected their job performance.
Those concerns are felt to some extent in every industry sector. For example, 51% of those employed in finance and insurance, 74% of ambulance staff and 48% of construction workers said that their job performance is affected by poor financial wellbeing.
How to reverse the ‘ripple effect’
Employers in any sector can help to stem, or even reverse, the ripple effect of poor staff financial wellbeing.
Train staff to spot when a colleague is struggling.
Changes in an employee’s behaviour or a drop in their productivity can be signs that all is not well. Educate line managers and the rest of the workforce so that they can see when a colleague is struggling and know how to respond. The reason might not always be money-related but being able to open a conversation with a colleague is a vital skill.
Create the right culture.
Almost half (46%) of respondents said that money worries have a negative impact on their ability to seek help generally. Employers are extremely well placed to help, but at present only 5% of employees say they would turn to their workplace if they had a money problem. Employers are not always receptive, either. Neyber’s research found that a third (31%) of the 500 employers who took part said employees’ financial health wasn’t something that their organisation had responsibility for. Only 22% said they felt it was important to look after the financial wellbeing of their staff.
Offer EAPs and other support resources.
Employee Assistance Programmes can give employees help through work without having to confide in colleagues or line managers. There are benefits for employers, too. Aggregated, anonymised data from EAP providers can offer valuable insights into what is worrying staff.
Develop a financial wellbeing strategy for the whole workforce.
It can be tempting to focus financial wellbeing on low-paid or younger workers, but money worries affect employees of all ages, levels of seniority and income brackets. Nearly half (47%) of employees aged between 55 and 64 who took part in The DNA of Financial Wellbeing 2018 said that they are affected by money worries.
Make communications effective, frequent and appropriate.
Although 50% of businesses believe their employees think they care about their financial wellbeing, in fact only 32% of employees really feel that their employer cares. That could be because the employer’s approach to financial wellbeing isn’t appropriate for the workforce, hasn’t been communicated properly - or employees have forgotten about it. Reducing the ripple effect of poor financial wellbeing can’t be a one-off campaign – it is an ongoing workplace challenge that requires long-term commitment.