Money makes the world go round, or so the saying goes… but what happens when people have chronic worries about their finances? And is there a wider impact from these concerns on personal wellbeing and even how well we are able to do our jobs?
Yes, according to a recent survey of 1800 UK employees reported by the CIPD. A quarter of those surveyed said that they were ‘suffering’ on account of money problems to the extent that it had an adverse effect on their ability to do their job. The preoccupation and distraction of such a significant proportion of work force will most certainly negative impact on overall productivity.
Age (and therefore possibly experience in handling money) seems to be one key factor in the extent to which money problems impact on work. In the survey, the figure for those who reported money problems having an adverse effect on their ability to do their job rose from a quarter to nearly one third in the 18-24 year old group. Of course this group captures the school/college leaver and graduate, new to the world of work. And it’s this group where anxieties about repayment of loans for further education and grabbing on to the first rung of an increasingly challenging property ladder are likely to be prevalent.
Impact of financial concerns widespread
There are geographical variables too. The number reporting problems rises to a nearly a third (31%) among 18-24 year olds, and those living in London (32%).
It would be easy to assume that those earning a higher salary are ‘sorted’ – but the evidence from the survey shows that one in five of those earning between £45k and £60k also have worries that can impact on their ability to do their job.
With the rise in inflation, firmer control of wage costs, political uncertainty and Brexit in the mix, there is potential for external circumstances to impact more widely on the level of anxiety about money.
Wellbeing – the link with productivity
We in COPE have looked closely at the impact of various life situations and perceptions on individual wellbeing. Wellbeing is not synonymous with simply ‘physical’ or ‘mental’ health. It’s a more complex ‘self-construct’ which focuses on the balance point between the demands placed upon us and the resources we have available to meet those demands.
This more holistic concept of wellbeing includes elements such as social support and networks, relationships (home and work based), feelings of being treated well – or otherwise, working environment and financial stability. If a person perceives one or more of these elements to be out of kilter, this could tip the ‘balance point’ such that wellbeing dips with an inevitable impact on productivity.
So how do we develop a proactive approach?
We know from working with our clients using COPE’s unique wellbeing and productivity tool (WPT) that financial concerns can be a clearly identifiable – and not insignificant – part of a person’s perception of their wellbeing.
Our research and experience tells us that organisations that care about their employees’ wellbeing and want to encourage and support a focused, productive workforce are best served by adopting a holistic wellbeing strategy, founded on organisation specific evidence. Want to find some ideas as to how this might be achieved? See our information page here: http://www.cope.co.uk/services/health-and-wellbeing-consultancy-services/wellbeing-productivity-tool-wpt/.