The financial toll of Covid on employees
Talk Money Week 9-13 November
Covid-19 is affecting employees’ financial health as well as their physical health. For Talk Money Week, Towergate Health & Protection is highlighting the wider and perhaps unexpected financial impacts of the pandemic and suggesting how employers are well placed to help. We are outlining the financial concerns with which employees may be struggling as a result of Covid-19. These include such diverse matters as debt, divorce, gambling addictions and private medical costs, all of which have an impact on financial and mental wellness.
The list of areas in which an employee’s finances may be negatively affected by Covid-19 is almost inexhaustible, and debt management is a major area. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau estimates that 6 million UK adults have fallen behind on at least one household bill during the pandemic.
There is a close link between financial health and mental health, with money worries being a contributing factor to stress, anxiety, and suicide rates. In fact, the Debt Support Trust states that suicide is considered by almost 50% of people struggling with debt in the UK.
A rise in divorce cases is expected, with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau stating it had a 25% increase in views on its divorce page for the first weekend in September 2020 compared with the previous year.
Even medical costs may rise for employees due to Covid-19. Unergonomic home-working conditions or taking up new sports can result in the need for a visit to a physiotherapist or chiropractor. Dental costs can also escalate as dentists pass on their additional PPE costs to patients, or the consequences of people being unable to visit dentists in the spring with a minor ailment now requiring more extensive and expensive treatment.
Employers can help
Employers are in a position to be able to assist their employees with all these areas, including offering access to help for budgeting, debt management, financial planning, gambling addiction and health benefits. Support for these financial issues will also be a great support to employees’ mental wellbeing too.
Helping employees does not have to cost the business money. Free help is available, and employers can provide support by simply showing they care and signposting employees to help. The Money Advice Service and Citizen’s Advice Bureau both offer free and impartial advice.
Employers gain too
Providing information and support regarding employees’ financial situations will clearly benefit the individuals, but it can also be a great support to a business. As worries about money are a major cause of stress and anxiety, this can in turn lead to increased absenteeism, presenteeism and a drop in productivity. So any support for an employee’s finances will also be positive for the company.
Helping employees with their financial wellness may be as simple and cost-free as ensuring they have contact details for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. There is also a lot to be said for checking existing health and wellbeing policies and benefits to see if there are any additional services offered, such as access to employee assistance programmes that can offer guidance on a range of issues which impact finances. Talk Money Week raises an important point: we can’t underestimate the importance of communication, it can go a long way to let employees know that the business cares about their issues and would like to help.
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Brett Hill is Distribution Director of Towergate Health & Protection. Brett’s career spans 20 years, working in technical, commercial, sales & marketing and senior management roles with leading insurance companies, including AXA PPP Healthcare, Standard Life Healthcare and Unum. Brett has been responsible for charting the company’s...