Sarah-Jane Butler, CEO and founder of Your Employee Wellbeing, says constant uncertainty has been a key contributor to the huge economic impact of the pandemic on both businesses and their employees. “This uncertainty has led to anxiety and heightened stress in many as they wonder if their jobs or salaries are safe, or their businesses will survive,” she says. “Not knowing if you are going to be able to pay the bills at the end of the month can lead to more than sleepless nights. And the pressure of poor financial well-being impacts families as well as individuals on so many levels.
“While the financial downturn has been a large concern for business owners, especially SMEs, for their employees, who feel a greater lack of control, the effects on mental health have been more defined,” Butler adds. “It is very important, therefore, that employers provide as much support and advice as possible, whether through access to financial coaches, webinars, fact sheets, signposting or counselling sessions. At Your Employee Wellbeing we know that people often feel embarrassed talking about money, but the more support an employer can give, the greater the productivity and mental well-being of their employees. Not providing the right support is a vicious negative circle. Being open and supportive has the opposite positive effect that will make a difference.”
Shukla was keen to reassure his employees that they would continue to receive stable pay, as soon as he knew for certain that he could continue to pay people. “At the start of the pandemic, and frequently thereafter, reassuring employees also meant updating them as and when I got new information. If we secured a new client – or even if we lost one – I told them straight away.”
Financial worries among staff can also lead to a stark drop-off in employee productivity, adds Hearn. “Offering help is not only the human thing to do; it makes good business sense, too. Addressing financial wellness and providing support also shows employees that their employer understands and cares about them, which leads to trust, loyalty and, ultimately, retention.”