Beyond paychecks: The hidden toll of financial stress on mental health and the businesses bottom line
By Courtesy of Luke Bullen, VP and Head of UK & Ireland at Gympass
In today’s dynamic and demanding work environment, businesses are grappling with unprecedented challenges as a result of increased workplace absences. A recent study found that the number of UK employees taking sick leave hit a 10-year high, with the average number of days off coming in at 7.8 over a twelve-month period.
88% of UK workers place the same importance on their wellbeing at work as they do on their salary. Yet, despite this, the leading cause of absences were stress-related. A staggering 72% of UK employees say that their financial situation distracts them from work. And these numbers highlight that businesses are at a crunch point, where employee wellbeing can no longer be relegated as an afterthought; but must be a core pillar of organisational success. Businesses must recognise the hidden toll of financial stress on their employees’ mental health and, ultimately, their bottom line.
The interconnected facets of wellbeing
Wellbeing is not a singular concept and recognising the interconnectedness of physical, mental, emotional, and financial wellbeing has led to a shift in attitudes. Today, support comes in comprehensive wellness strategies that acknowledge and support these interwoven aspects. The critical link between financial wellbeing and overall wellbeing is underscored by the fact employees are now prioritising their wellbeing at work to be as important as their salary. Business leaders should not be so quick to dismiss the link.
Chronic financial stress takes a toll on an individual’s overall wellbeing, leading to a range of physical and mental health issues. These issues not only affect the individual’s quality of life but also contribute to a whole host of wider concerns like uneven workload and poor morale, further impacting the company’s productivity and profitability.
Overlooking an individual’s wellbeing is not just a personal oversight; it is a shortsighted business decision. By failing to address the issue of stress and its potential consequences, companies are jeopardising their own success. A holistic approach to employee wellbeing, encompassing stress management, work-life balance initiatives, and a supportive work environment, is not just a gracious act; it is an investment in the company’s most valuable asset – its people.
The role of employers in mitigating negative financial wellbeing
Annually, mental health problems cost the UK economy £118 billion at a minimum, with almost a third of the cost due to the lost productivity of people struggling with mental health issues. The different facets of wellbeing are all interconnected, each playing a vital role in creating the fabric of our overall health and wellbeing. And when one aspect is neglected, it has a ripple effect throughout the whole system, highlighting the interdependence of each facet. And employees who fail to prioritise their emotional and physical wellbeing often experience elevated stress levels, which can lead to decreased productivity, lowered morale, and compromised performance.
In order to combat this, employers have a duty of care to mitigate unnecessary stress in the workplace where possible. That encompasses a broad range of responsibilities. Employers need to offer a holistic approach to wellness to help mitigate stress, such as mental health resources, flexible work arrangements, and other wellness programmes. Recognising that access is often the first crucial step in engaging individuals, over 60% of Gympass members didn’t have a gym membership before joining the programme, emphasising the significance of accessibility in initiating participation. This underlines the importance of ensuring that the first step in creating a holistic support package is reviewing employees’ needs, preferences, and challenges, ensuring that the support package is tailored and responsive to diverse individual requirements.
Equipping employees with the resources to seek assistance when needed and providing them with the necessary support networks to foster a healthier and more supportive workplace environment. It’s crucial for businesses to acknowledge that holistic employee support is vital for sustained productivity and satisfaction, and will only benefit employers in the long run by encouraging a healthier, more engaged workforce, reducing turnover rates, boosting morale, and ultimately enhancing the company’s bottom line.
Financial wellbeing is an integral part of overall wellbeing, and by providing financial education initiatives, offering financial wellness programs, and fostering a supportive environment around financial matters, employers can empower their employees to make informed financial decisions, manage their debt effectively, and plan for their future. Financial wellness is not just a personal issue; it’s a business imperative that can drive sustainable growth and success in the ever-changing world of work.
The path forward: embracing a holistic approach to wellness
Offering benefits and initiatives that cater to various lifestyles, preferences, and personal situations is pivotal. The key is to make those benefits as universal as possible, so that all employees can choose to use them how they wish.Empowering staff to take ownership of their work-life balance and overall wellbeing can significantly contribute to a healthier and more productive workplace.
With all this being said, the future is looking promising for businesses that prioritise and invest in their employees’ wellbeing. Forward-thinking businesses that proactively address the diverse needs of their workforce will not only attract top talent but also retain it. And as this narrative continues to extend throughout the industries, the relationship between employee wellbeing and business prosperity will become the cornerstone of success in today’s dynamic business landscape.