Employers failing to support workers during cost-of-living crisis

Only 12% believe employers are effectively supporting their financial wellbeing 

New research from Zellis, the HR and payroll specialists, shows that businesses are falling behind in their responsibility to protect the wellbeing of their employees during the cost-of-living crisis. With living costs increasing to record levels, nearly half (45%) of employees say that money worries are affecting them at work yet just 12% say their employer is very effective at supporting their financial wellbeing.  

The research shows that the cost-of-living crisis in the UK and Ireland is causing anxiety amongst employees, with 73% now more worried about their finances than they were prior to the pandemic.  This number rises to 80% of those with lower numeracy (an assessment of the ability to understand and use maths in daily life), and 81% of those with a diagnosed mental health condition. This shows that employers must take active steps to protect their most vulnerable employees from further avoidable anxiety around their finances. 

Worries over navigating the cost-of-living crisis are also being compounded by uncertainty over the accuracy and reliability of pay, with 38% of employees admitting that they are not fully confident that they understand their payslips, or could spot an error.  

Almost half of respondents (49%) reported that payroll errors, such as being paid late or the incorrect amount, would have a negative impact on their mental health. A additional 36% say checking their payslip makes them feel uneasy and worried about their finance, with a quarter (24%) saying this is because they really don’t understand it.  

“This research sends a clear message to employers: you must do more to support your people through this crisis,” said Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer at Zellis. “As the cost-of-living continues to hit workers hard, employers must do everything they can to ease anxiety about pay and bridge the numeracy gap to ensure employees are making the best money decisions. This means helping employees to understand their payslips, ensuring financial information is clear and concise, and making employees feel comfortable about raising concerns or questions about pay.”  

With new increases in how much national insurance UK employees pay, and a corrective relief measure for some coming in July, having confidence that you are getting taxed effectively has never been more important. Unfortunately, nearly half (48%) of respondents admit that they wouldn’t be able to identify an error in their tax code. This highlights a worrying potential mental health timebomb, as more than half (51%) claim that a mistake in their pay would lead to stress and anxiety and half say it would lead to financial difficulties, such as not being able to pay rent. 

“At a time when so much is out of employees control when it comes to their money, its clear that employers need to do more to help their people overcome the challenges of a lack of numeracy and financial stress, but it is also on them to ensure that their payroll is accurate and timely,” said Gethin Nadin. “This research shows the implications of simple payroll mistake on employees can be incredibly serious, and these errors are significantly magnicifed during this time of uncertainty.” 

To introduce financial wellbeing best practice and address the clear need for help, Zellis has partnered with Money Helper to support the five million plus employees who currently use Zellis solutions for their payroll and HR needs. Money Helper is a UK Government organisation that provides free budgeting and debt management tools to people in the UK.  

Download the full Payroll and Financial Wellbeing Report. 

Zellis commissioned this comprehensive independent research amongst employees, conducting 2,010 interviews with employees across the UK and Ireland at a non-management level.  


This article was originally published on https://www.zellis.com/resources/press-and-media/financial-wellbeing-2022/ on June 22

About Zellis  

Zellis is the largest provider of payroll and HR software, and Managed Services, to UK and Ireland-based companies with over 1,000 employees. With over 50 years’ experience and over 2,500 employees, we count nearly half (45%) of the FTSE 100 as customers and pay over five million employees a year. We are also the people behind ResourceLink, now part of Zellis HCM Cloud, which won the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professional’s (CIPP) Payroll Software of the Year Award for 2020 and 2021.   

About Gethin Nadin 

Gethin is an award-winning psychologist who has been helping some of the world’s largest organisations to improve their employee experience and wellbeing for two decades. Gethin leads innovation and thought leadership for the Zellis group. In 2018, Gethin published his first book – the HR bestseller ‘A World of Good: Lessons From Around the World in Improving the Employee Experience’, which has gone on to inspire HR and Reward teams at some of the world’s best known brands. In 2022, Gethin co-authored his second book ‘Das Menschliche Büro – The Human(e) Office’ a collaboration between leading academics and workplace professionals from across Europe. 

Will the reopening bring an increase in financial anxiety?

For many employees, the last year and a half has seen a significant reduction in the amount of work-related expenditure, such as commuting and buying lunch when in the office. As well as this, the enforced closure of leisure, retail and hospitality means that spending outside of work may also have decreased.

As the UK reopens at various paces, there is likely to be financial worries on the horizon as people need to pay for their petrol or public transport to get to the workplace, food when they are at work in addition to having money to live and rebuild social lives.

Financial stress can hit anyone at any point – for some it has been a constant throughout the pandemic, and anxieties around money can have a direct impact on overall mental health and wellbeing. As we navigate another huge change to people’s lives, employers need to know how they can support their staff if money troubles arise in the coming weeks and months.

Let employees know you are there to help

Fostering a culture within your workplace in which employees know they can have confidential and non-judgmental conversations with the HR team or equivalent, should they be facing financial problems is essential in supporting employees.

Communicate to employees that you understand what they may be going through and inform them that there are people that they can trust ready to listen and help whenever they need it.

Offer financial wellness and personal finance training

Providing on-demand resources or seminar-style training sessions on personal finance management will help employees to manage their money more effectively, leading to a more positive mindset when dealing with finances.

If employees feel like they are more financially secure, their overall satisfaction and mental health can improve and they are more likely to feel satisfied, valued and fairly paid in their job.

Implement a savings benefits programme

By adding a savings programme, such as Wrkit’s Lifestyle Savings, to your benefits offering, you can actively help employees to spend less money. Savings can be made on both essential, practical expenses, such as fuel and insurance, and lifestyle costs such as travel, fashion and entertainment.

A savings programme is a simple benefit to offer to employees that will make them feel like their employer is taking care of them outside of work, improving overall job satisfaction.

Financial struggles can be incredibly detrimental to people’s mental health, and by recognising this and acknowledging that the ending of current Covid restrictions could exacerbate these types of issues, employers will go a long way in protecting their employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

Why wellness programmes need to address financial wellbeing

Over the past two years, we have seen an increasing number of corporates turning attention to employee wellbeing. Reassuringly, there is a greater tendency toward long term sustainable wellbeing strategies, moving away from the traditional annual wellbeing week. Most organisations we meet offer their employees a diverse range of talks, supports such as EAP, and fitness programmes. However, a truly holistic wellness programme needs to go one step further to include financial wellbeing supports. According to the findings of a 2016 Financial Wellness Survey, “finances play a leading role in elevating stress levels for 52% of employees”. Hence there is a significant need to incorporate financial wellness initiatives to help employees manage debt, reduce stress and live happier lives.

Here are five services you can consider for your financial wellness programme.

  1. Literature and free supports: make sure there is literature available for all to access. Services such as MABS offer free advice for people managing debt and offer a free helpline. Keep this information visible throughout the year.
  2. Seminars: talks and seminars are a great way to educate a large audience. There is a myriad of experts who can give high level advice around budgeting and saving. Given the sensitive nature of money and debt these talks should be skills based and offer something for those who may not be in debt as well as those who are.
  3. 1 to 1 consultation:  consultations provide a unique opportunity for individuals to discuss their personal money challenges. Advisors will be in a position to help identify upcoming expenses and put a plan in place to ensure future financial goals are achieved.
  4. Offer discounts: any opportunity where you can help your workforce to reduce their everyday cost of living will contribute toward less stress and an overall happier workforce. Employee discount platforms will help individuals save on everything from grocery shopping, to fuel and holidays to family excursions to the cinema.
  5. Pensions: planning for future financial security can help reduce money worries, however in recent years there has been a concerning downward trend in the number of adults with private pensions and for most people, the state pension alone will not suffice. Offering pension contributions is vital and ensuring employees understand where their money is going, potential return, and risks will alleviate concerns and increase the numbers of people availing of this benefit.

Financial wellness programmes should be designed to demystify the world of financial planning and equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to manage debt and save for the future.

Author: Peter Jenkinson, CEO @ Wrkit

Wrkit specialise in the creation of better, healthier working environments. Our platform connects global, remote and local teams through five modules; Surveys, Recognition, POWR, Learning and Savings. Speak to an Engagement Specialist today – info@wrkit.com

Linking financial difficulty and mental health at work

A recent research project by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, sponsored by SalaryFinance, sets out the case for employers to provide practical support to employees experiencing financial difficulty, and how this could boost the mental health, wellbeing and resilience of their workforce.

The analysis found a clear link between financial difficulties and poor mental health. Not only do 45% of UK employees report at least one sign of poor mental health, but those with money worries are 50% more likely to report signs of poor mental health that affect their performance at work.

The research found that even less intense financial strain can have an impact on both wellbeing and productivity. 41% of employees who identified themselves as financially comfortable reported at least one sign of poor mental health. However, this number rises to 51% for those just about managing and to 67% for people in financial difficulty.

This is perhaps not surprising when considering the fragile financial situation of a large proportion of the UK workforce. Nearly 17 million working age people across the UK have savings of less than £100, meaning that something as simple as an unexpected repair bill can create a significant issue. Those with lower credit scores will often pay higher interest rates, exacerbating the issue and triggering a cycle of problem debt.

The consequences on an individual’s ability to work caused by financial worries include struggling to concentrate, losing sleep, feeling additional pressure and reduced motivation.

The results highlight a two-way street between concerns about money and mental health, suggesting action to improve financial resilience and alleviate problem debts could play an important role in preventing mental health problems in Britain’s workplaces.

The report suggests actions that employers can take to alleviate these issues for their employees:

  • Boost short term savings: Access to savings of just £1,000 could protect half a million households from problem debt.
  • Support access to affordable credit: Over half of the research participants suggested that the provision of affordable credit products through payroll would have helped them.
  • Foster financial capability: Access to financial tools and apps can help people manage their money more successfully.

The full research report – Overstretched, overdrawn, underserved – can be found at: www.moneyandmentalhealth.org/financialwellbeingatwork/

Big Cinema Savings Employees Will Love

A favourite source of entertainment

According to the Independent.ie, Irish people are the most avid cinema goers in Europe, with almost five million viewers in the first quarter of this year. However, it’s an increasingly expensive source of entertainment. In 2015, the nationwide average price for a cinema ticket in the Republic of Ireland was €6.94. While in the UK ticket prices have been steadily increasing over the past number of years from an average of £5.95 in 2010 to £7.41 in 2016. When you factor in the cost of popcorn and drinks the cinema can become an expensive night out.

The dream discount for Cinema lovers

With our Cinema Plus offer employees in the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland can utilise discounts of up to 40% at leading cinema chains. Launching earlier this year, Cinema Plus UK saw almost 1,500 orders made in the first quarter, a clear favourite among our users. With Summer holidays just around the corner and big movie releases such as; Despicable Me 3, Bay Watch, Wonder Woman and Pirates of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge all coming soon, this discount is one that every employee will love.

Getting Cinema Plus for your employees

Cinema Plus is the most recent addition to our employee savings portfolio. This product is included in the list price for the Wrkit Discounts and Savings module. This module also includes hundreds of exclusive offers from big brands and local retailers including restaurants, holidays, everyday savings, and luxury items. Offering employees savings on their everyday living expenses benefits their financial wellbeing, contributing to overall engagement and job satisfaction.

Talk to us today to find out more about this and other modules – info@wrkit.com

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit.