As stress levels and other health issues rise amongst employees, research has suggested that money worries may be a leading cause. A lack of savings and concern over pensions seem to be a driving factor, with lack of financial education exacerbating the situation.
When questioned by the Close Brothers Business Barometer, 34% of employers in the UK believed that stress amongst their employees was at least partially caused by poor financial management, particularly a lack of savings and pensions. Only 17% outright denied that employee finances had no impact on their work. Higher absenteeism due to financial stress was seen by 14% of employers, and 25% saw further health concerns.
Currently, only around 1 in 5 businesses offer financial education to their staff, and 14% of those describe that education as “limited”. In total, 47%, or close to half of UK businesses, do not even plan to introduce financial education for employees, despite not offering the service and in some cases being aware that lack of financial education is a problem.
The research suggests around 36% of businesses do plan to introduce financial education programmes in the next three years. Among SMEs with between 11 – 60 employees, this figure rises to 50% planning to offer financial education.
The study highlighted the top ten reasons that most employers gave for offering financial education programmes. The most common was seeing it as a valued employee benefit, with 40% stating that as their main reason.
Others included improving financial wellbeing (37%) being part of the business’ people strategy (33%), improving employee engagement (25%), ensuring employees made the most of their benefits (22%), improving productivity (21%), supporting pension scheme engagement (17%), representing brand values and culture (14%), assisting in the acquiring and retaining of new talent, (11%), supporting leavers (10%), fulfilling strategic business objectives (10%) and finally aiming to reduce absenteeism, which was cited by 6% of respondents.
There are a variety of ways in which financial education programmes can be delivered. The most common is simply through face-to-face meetings, with employees being addressed individually. This method is the choice of around 37% of respondents. Other methods include workshops alongside the face-to-face conferences, a combination chosen 35% of the time.
There are around 26% of employers offering education via e-mail and 25% doing so through seminars on the internet. A further 23% also utilise some variation of an online platform. The least common methods were the 9% of programmes offered by post and the even smaller 4% that used text.
A spokesperson for Close Brothers said that the research highlighted the importance of financial education to employers, as well as employees. As things currently stand, the poor financial management shown by many employees is damaging to their productivity ,as well as their health and happiness. If employers can find a way to assist their employees in this matter, it could result in improved results for the business as well as the worker.