Financial insecurity is contributing to the national burden of poor mental health among UK employees, a survey suggests.
The YouGov poll, commissioned by Business in the Community in partnership with Mercer, found 66% of workers said their mental health and wellbeing is affected by job security, while 65% said it is impacted by the state of the economy and 77% by the cost of living.
The survey of 4,000 people also revealed financial concerns caused three-fifths of respondents to say they had experienced negative mental health symptoms such as loss of sleep, stress, lack of concentration and fatigue.
Fewer than half of employees (46%) are satisfied with their current financial situation and 56% of employees are reluctant to talk about money issues at work.
Employees were more likely to talk to their manager about general mental health issues (24%) than financial issues (14%) when given a direct choice. However, half said they would not like to talk about either, and only 17% thought their employer supports those with financial difficulties.
Despite this, 85% of people managers saw employee wellbeing as their responsibility.
A further 68% of managers said there are barriers to providing support for staff mental wellbeing, with training a key concern.
Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, said employers have an important role in educating employees in financial literacy and signposting them to appropriate sources of professional support.
“Although there has been slow incremental improvement of overall mental health at work over the past three years, collective and urgent action by employers is needed to build momentum quickly, taking a ‘whole person’ approach to physical, mental, financial and social health and wellbeing,” she argued.
The report calls for employers to integrate financial wellbeing into organisational health and wellbeing policies and be explicit about what is available or acceptable within the organisation to people with financial issues.
It also recommends offering financial education and increase the use of existing benefits.
Wolfgang Seidl, workplace health consulting leader UK and Europe for Mercer Marsh Benefits, said for the health of the workforce to flourish, the focus must shift from disconnected initiatives to approaches that address employees’ physical and mental wellbeing as one.
“Someone struggling to manage their income may experience stress and sleep loss, leading to unhealthy comfort eating,” he explained. “They might not yet experience health issues and by encouraging a focus on financial wellness, employers can help prevent any from developing further down the line.”