Debt Awareness Week: Supporting Employees in Debt
23 March 2023
Debt can happen to anyone. Financial anxiety impacts productivity, adding to employee stress and impacting their overall wellbeing. Discover how offering financial education, money management tools, salary-stretching employee benefits, and debt consolidation tools can protect your employees' financial health, helping them to thrive at work and at home.
With research suggesting that employees experiencing money worries cost the UK economy £120bn and 17.5 million lost hours of work, it pays for employers to offer financial wellbeing support.
Debt Awareness Week, run by StepChange Debt Charity, brings the message that debt can happen to anyone to the Nation’s attention.
“With the rising cost of living, we're finding that many of the people who come to us for help are experiencing financial difficulties for the first time.” StepChange
The cost-of-living crisis has changed the landscape, with debt becoming an issue for some people for the first time.
Use this Debt Awareness Week to encourage your employees to assess whether debt is becoming a problem for them. With this short Debt Awareness Quiz, they can create a snapshot of their financial health.
A Financial Capability survey found that ‘nearly nine million of us are in serious debt, and only around a third receive help.’
Employers are in a position to help employees stretch their wages further, educate them, and even help consolidate debts.
Download our Financial Wellbeing Guide to see how you can help.
The current climate
The Office of National Statistics published a report on ‘The rising cost of living and its impact on individuals in Great Britain: November 2021 to March 2022’.
There are several alarming stats produced by that report that we’ll use during this article to support the importance of the Debt Awareness Week campaign and to highlight how and why businesses can and should help their employees.
According to the ONS report, of the adults surveyed, 17% claimed they were using more credit than the previous year. The problem with relying too much on credit is that it can become a cycle where the reliance on paying with credit grows. So can the debt, especially if you can only make the minimum monthly repayments.
Supporting your people
Are you using this Debt Awareness Week to kick off your financial wellbeing initiative?
Once you’ve started the initial conversation with your people with the Debt Test, you can start an honest dialogue about what support your people need.
Financial First Aiders
Financial First Aiders are employees trained with knowledge of financial wellbeing. Their role is to provide a confidential ear and peer-to-peer support and will be able to help colleagues experiencing financial difficulties.
By providing free and impartial guidance and signposting colleagues to additional resources, Financial First Aiders can help before debt becomes unmanageable.
A survey conducted by Financial Capability found that ‘39% of adults (20.3 million) don’t feel confident managing their money.’
Employers can bridge the knowledge gap by providing employees with money management and budgeting workshops.
Furthermore, you can boost their learning by offering our Financial Wellbeing App. Our Financial Wellbeing products allow employees to access wage withdrawals ahead of payday, track their earnings as they work, build up savings direct from their pay, chat with qualified financial coaches, check their financial health score, and more – all in one app, with no change to payroll.
Salary-stretching employee benefits
Here at Pluxee UK, we empower our business clients to give more for less, and we have a host of award-winning employee benefits available to help achieve this goal.
Our employee discounts platform gives your people savings on everyday essentials and treats or experiences your employees, and their families can enjoy. Available on the go, employees reap the savings when they purchase discounted voucher codes from a vast range of high street and high-end retailers, online and in-store.
Our Pluxee Card is another way to offer significant financial support to your employees and their families. Once it’s in the hands of your people, they can top it up themselves, allowing them to continue to earn up to 15% cashback at participating retailers.
Salary deduct, better known as salary sacrifice schemes, are most commonly associated with Cycle to Work schemes. However, they can do so much more.
Employee Loans & Savings
43% of the adults interviewed in March 2022 didn’t think they’d be able to save money for at least a year.
You can make it possible for employees in debt or with little extra at the end of each month to become active savers.
Employees seeking a loan through a Salary Finance solution can be educated and encouraged to create a savings pot alongside their loan repayment. Plus, once employees have repaid the loan, they can continue to make monthly payments. Instead of paying off a debt, they’ll build up a nice little nest egg.
30% of adults have reported that meeting mortgage, loan repayments and monthly rent has been difficult during the cost-of-living crisis.
Those unable to meet essential payments are more at risk of entering debt.
Debt is a cycle, and one often leads to another. When debt is at its most dangerous, people risk being buried by multiple creditors chasing them for payments. Debt consolidation by Salary Finance helps your people combine their debts into one manageable payment, often with substantially less interest than high-street lenders. It minimises money worries, makes everything easier to cope with, and helps people pay off debts quicker.
Support mental health
The ONS ran a study on financial anxiety in adults, with 82% of interviewees in the 30 to 49 age group feeling either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very worried’ about the rising cost of living.
In addition to offering financial education, salary-stretching employee benefits and salary finance solutions, your people will also benefit from mental health support.
There are different levels of anxiety, but in its worst case – severe anxiety – it can be debilitating within all areas of a person's life. It could even affect an employee’s ability to perform their role. This will lead to workplace stress, and the employee could eventually reach breaking point.
You can give your people a safe space to turn.
Embed an Employee Assistance Programme into your business. As well as including financial wellbeing features, it will provide your people with access to BCAP-accredited counsellors 24/7, ensuring there’s support available whenever they need professional and confidential help.
Boost your employees' financial wellbeing
There isn’t just one solution for supporting your employees’ financial wellbeing. A business needs a culture of trust to be best positioned to support its people, encouraging openness about any financial difficulties they may be experiencing.
From there, employers can understand the steps they need to take to provide assistance that’s fit for purpose and will make the most significant impact.
Pluxee UK has been supporting employers for over 60 years, and we continue to make it our mission to help you help your people succeed – through times of crisis and beyond. Contact an employee wellbeing expert today for more information.