It is fair to say that no one could have predicted how 2020 would have panned out. The global pandemic has forced a change to all of our lives: whether you have not seen the inside of your office since March, whether you have anxiously walked back into a public facing job, or whether you are still waiting to hear if your job is safe, all of us have undoubtedly been affected.
With World Mental Health day fast approaching, we cannot ignore the context of what this year has enforced upon us. Psychology Today proclaims that as a result of COVID-19, we are all going through a type of collectivetrauma1, and the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts that COVID-19“will have significant consequences for people’s health outcomes in the short and longer term”2. There is no doubt that COVID-19 is having a substantial impact on a large proportion of the UK population’s financial wellbeing, and in turn, mental health.
But what role do employers have in all of this? While COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst and accelerated wellbeing as a topic, employers must be more innovative and sophisticated in the way they approach employee benefits in order to reach and engage all of their workforce. Although, rather than labelling these solutions as employee benefits, we think it might it be better suited to refer to them as employee wellbeing solutions. The reason being, that employee wellbeing is no longer merely a weekly yoga session in your lunch break, and employee benefits now means more than 5% cashback at Sainsbury’s. The two former meanings have amalgamated to create an all-encompassing definition of wellbeing that includes physical, social, mental and financial health. The employee wellbeing market is moving in a way that will help Human Resources Directors (HRDs) address each of these problems at a time where it is crucial to do so. Yes, there are obstacles, but there has never been a more exciting time to research new, pioneering ways in which to help employees.
But for the time being, research still shows that the pandemic is negatively affecting the finances of at least one in three of us3.That one in three might be you; it could be a colleague, a family member or a friend that you are concerned about. Regardless of who, here are three things that anyone can do right now to help their financial wellbeing:
1. Check what you are entitled to and create a budget. What you are entitled to could be via the Job Retention Scheme, Universal Credit or simply, your salary. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. There are many great budgeting tools out there that can help you see the money you have coming in and out. You will then have a much better idea of where your money is going and where you might be able to save a few £s.
2. Low/no-cost activities. There are plenty of activities that may help you feel less isolated or overwhelmed at this time that you can do without breaking the bank such as walking, visiting local parks and free YouTube exercise classes (perhaps even whilst on Zoom with a colleague!).
3. Talk. At WorkLife, we can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you feel as though you are struggling, mentally, socially, financially or physically – let someone know. Your friends, family or colleagues may be able to help you, or can direct you to services that will. Please do not suffer in silence.
If your mental health is being adversely affected by your financial situation then please feel free to consult the following free online resources:
Step Change Debt Charity - https://www.stepchange.org/
Mind - https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/money-and-mental-health/money-and-mental-health/
OpenMoney - https://www.open-money.co.uk/
Mental health UK - https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/downloadable-resources/