One of the areas which might tend to get overlooked when it comes to mental health is the impact financial wellbeing can have on an individual.
Look at any of the main causes of stress and I suspect that financial problems will be right up there, along with personal relationships, parenting, or work. And here is where both work and financial issues can be natural bedfellows.
It’s interesting because when employers look at ways to ease stress on individuals within a workplace environment they tend, quite naturally, to focus on areas such as their workload or meeting deadlines. Or they look at control (or lack of it), the nature of the job itself, plus of course career advancement opportunities, or job insecurity.
Thinking outside the workplace box
These, of course, are all very relevant, and they certainly should be reviewed regularly with the employee, but at what point might the employer look to help with those ‘outside’ sources of stress? These will naturally be brought into the workplace and are likely to have an impact on the individual and their ability to do their job.
In the current environment especially, where we see the cost of living rising so much, where we see interest rates on the up, where we anticipate big future rises in utility bills again this year, where there is talk of a recession, it would hardly be surprising to have employees having those worries.
Now, what might be the employer’s reaction to it? I suspect a number of employees might think that the ‘easy’ option here would be for their employer to increase wages, bonuses, and the like, and again it may well be that the employer is in a position to do this.
However, what if they are not? And, indeed, what if the money worries or the financial troubles are not going to be solved by a short-term salary increase? Perhaps they are far bigger than that, perhaps they don’t even involve the individual themselves, but they are concerned about family members struggling, for example.
It may seem like an obvious thing to say to an audience of mortgage advisers but the ability to talk to someone is going to be crucial. This doesn’t have to be ‘advice’ in our professional sense but could be simply around access to a counsellor who specialises in money issues, or access to charities or government support and grants.
It can be understanding an individual’s benefits situation and whether they might have access to a greater degree of support from the state. There are quite literally millions of people who do not claim benefits they are entitled to, and that could be a great help.
Again, it comes down to easing the burden on employees, and the ways and means by which you can do this as an employer. You are a business that provides mortgage and protection advice, but maybe that isn’t the advice these individuals need, but instead access to someone they can start a dialogue with and get the ball rolling on a potential solution
Overall, it could seem like a very simple thing to provide, but in the environment in which we live and the current situation many people are living through and trying to cope with, it could make all the difference. An employee who feels able to share that problem or burden is likely to be a happier one, and that is likely to be positive for both them and the firm.