Yesterday, signs of #WorldMentalHealthDay were plastered all over social media platforms. Reading and hearing about all the great stories that were being shared from every corner of the world, it got us at Feedr thinking about what kind of role employers could play, or should play, when it comes to looking after their employees mental wellness. Should they take on that responsibility, or is it a step too far in a Big Brother-esque direction we, as a democracy, would do better to avoid? We believe employers are perfectly positioned to help reduce employee financial stress, and thus boost their overall wellbeing.
At the core of most mental health and wellbeing struggles is the stress response. And while of course, there is more to the complex battle with one’s own mind, recognising and taming that stress response can be a powerful way to begin your journey back to optimum mental health and wellbeing.
One of the biggest stressors in the modern age is financial insecurity, with 4 in 5 people with financial worries also reporting high or above average stress levels, and 41% describing their health as poor, compared with just 17% of those who describe themselves as enjoying financial wellbeing. A recent Neyber survey of 10,000 UK employees found that 70% of those under the age of 34 are reliant on regular borrowing just to make ends meet, and over half of 22-29 year olds do not have any savings. For a generation of people who experienced the 2008 recession as impressionable teenagers and young adults, it is no surprise that this would cause significant mental stress.
This financial stress has considerable knock-on effects. 45% of people under the age of 34 say their money worries are a distraction and lead on to negatively affect their job performance. Employers are starting to recognise this, and are in a prime position to help their employees ameliorate their situation and reduce workplace stress. Despite 69% of employers agreeing they should play a more active role in helping employees manage their finances, only 1 in 5 companies actually offer financial education. However, this is set to rise rapidly, with a further 54% planning to implement such a service in the next 3 years. The primary reason for adoption? It is seen as an employee benefit to have such financial coaching on offer, and increasingly, talented employees are looking for such perks at work to attract and retain them.
Financial pressures have been linked to reduced productivity and engagement, and increased absenteeism at work, with 69% of employers say their employees’ financial stress affects their performance. How to reduce this stress? Luckily, there are a lot of affordable and accessible initiatives you can launch to help reduce employee financial stress and promote mental wellbeing in your company.
Financial Management for Personal Finances
When contemplating how to relieve stress, one of the best ways can be through financial education. One-on-one sessions with an impartial financial management coach are one of the most popular methods, perhaps because they are so effective. However, if you’re not keen on subsidising an on-demand finance guru for your team, a more cost-effective solution could be hosting a monthly or quarterly lunch-and-learn workshop for your team.
This is exactly what Nest DC, a boutique property management company in Washington, DC recently implemented. Turnout to these events was unprecedented, and the sessions ran three times as long as expected, demonstrating to Managing Director, Veronica Vivas, just how engaged her people were with learning how to best manage their personal finances. The result? Boosted team morale and cross-team relationships. A group of employees were so inspired, they started cooking lunch together in the company kitchen to save money.
CycleScheme to Cut Transportation Costs
Another key way to ease the financial pressure off your employees is by identifying where large chunks of their spending are going, and subsidising part of that cost for large savings on day-to-day expenses. A great example of this is a Cycle to Work Scheme like Cyclescheme, which helps employees save on daily public transportation costs when commuting to and from work (and we all know how quickly commuting fares add up in a city like London!).
The scheme allows companies to buy cycle schemes for their employees, enabling them to access commuter bikes and equipment at a fraction of the price. Payments are then taken tax-efficiently from their salary by their employer. Companies across all industries are doing it, from Teach First, to JPMorgan, to RyanAir, and its benefits extend beyond the money-saving incurred on the part of the employee. The scheme also helps to reduce pollution in urban areas, and promote cardiovascular exercise among those with largely sedentary office jobs. It’s a win-win all around.
Food Perks at Work – Subsidising Lunches
In addition to daily commuting costs, a large chunk of employees’ money is spent on food – particularly lunch at work. Averaging anywhere from £4-£10 per day, this kind of spending can really add up over time. Subsidising employee meals can save your employees a considerable amount of money, and time (no more popping out for 20min trying to find somewhere to eat!).
One great way to do this is through Feedr’s Cloud Canteen service. From as little as £15 per employee per week, you can subsidise employee lunches, giving them access to healthy, wholesome meals for the same price as a Pret A Manger sandwich. Plus, everyone loves food! And everyone needs to eat. This makes food perks a no-brainer option when looking to reduce employee financial stress, as you can be sure uptake will be high. And with forward-thinking companies like AirBnB and Founders Factory using the service, you know there’s got to be something to it.
In conclusion, there are several ways you can act to reduce employee financial stress. Whether it’s financial management workshops, signing up to a cyclescheme, or subsidising employee lunches, perks at work make a huge difference not only to your employees’ mental health and wellbeing, but also to their productivity, morale, and your ability to attract and retain the best talent out there. Take care of your team, and your team will take care of your business.