A survey of employers in England and Wales by intermediary Jelf Employee Benefits highlights the damage to work and productivity caused by employees’ personal financial problems.
The research, undertaken in the first half of 2017, surveyed more than 300 employers in private, public and third-sector organisations. According to the findings, employers believe that money worries may be distracting more than seven in 10 (71%) employees and 43% of organisations believe that staff had been absent from work to deal with financial problems in the last 12 months alone.
Employers believe that the cost of housing (20%) and house purchase (21%) are the chief financial concerns facing employees in 2017, with the cost of debt close behind (18%). Other major challenges include uncontrolled spending, food and utility prices, childcare and care costs.
Commenting on these findings, Steve Herbert of Jelf Employee Benefits said: “These findings really should act as a wake-up call for all UK employers. If the nation is going to flourish in a post-Brexit world, then it will be increasingly important that each and every employee is able to fully focus on their day-to-day work duties to help improve the UK’s poor productivity figures. It is therefore concerning that employers believe that money worries are actively distracting large slices of their workforce from this key objective.”
The study also sought employer views on how many in their workforce were struggling to balance income and expenditure; 27% of respondents believe that more than half of their workers were just about managing financially.
Herbert concluded: “It has been estimated that one in every eight workers* in the UK is now living in poverty, yet our survey suggests that very many more are genuinely struggling to balance day-to-day spending against their actual income. All employers should take time to look at this issue again and see what can practically be done to alleviate this situation.
“As part of this exercise we would strongly encourage employers to better promote the features of their employee benefits offering, and in particular introduce or promote the usage of employee assistance plans and financial education tools. This will help empower workers to achieve sensible and informed financial decisions.”