Our health and well-being is made up of several different domains: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial. Although each very different, they all interconnect and can impact each other. One correlation that may not be quite as apparent is the connection between our mental and financial health. An imbalance in one can greatly affect the balance of the other. As employers, it’s important to understand the full gravity of how the mental health of our employees is imperative to our company’s success. One of the top drivers of excess stress can stem directly from our finances. Whether it is stress related to personal or household finances, trying to maintain a budget or stress caused by unexpected expenses, all can affect our mental state which in turn affects work performance, presentism and can possibly lead to higher turnover rates(2). Keeping this is in mind is critical in the midst of this tax season especially, when some Americans are seeing an 8.7% decrease in their expected tax refund, while others are having to come out of pocket unexpectedly (3).
Combining this with survey results showing the majority of Americans don’t have much in savings, many less than $1k, (4), it’s easy to see how financial stress can impact mental and emotional stress, causing a cascade effect influencing both the work and personal lives of your employees.
You as the employer can play an important role in your employee’s mental and financial health and here’s how:
Provide employees opportunities for stress relief. This can be something as simple as offering onsite yoga classes once a week or complimentary chair massages once a month. If budgeting is an issue, many employees will gladly pay for chair massages if they are made available onsite. Other options are to pay attention to what’s available to employees in the break room. If there’s room available, providing stress relieving options such as a foosball table or corn hole could be a fun way to boost morale and allow employees to enjoy a quick mental break.
Equipping employees with knowledge can also be a way to help combat stress levels, as financial stress can often stem from not having enough information to make well informed decisions. Looking for opportunities to provide financial education or financial planning assistance through onsite workshops or seminars could be a great step in the right direction. Even if some employees are actively working on financial goals, everyone could benefit from the reminder that small, realistic goals are vital in order to reach the goals set, as unrealistic goals can easily do more harm than good.
While making stress relief options available is important, making sure your employees feel not just allowed, but encouraged to participate from the top down is critical. Many employers offer plenty of health centered options, but employees will not participate if peers, mid-level management or the culture does not support their participation. Therefore it is important to include all levels of management in educating on why it’s important to provide and promote the options available to employees, and how their engagement in and ability to manage stress could impact the company as a whole.
Not all options have to cost money – support could be as simple as encouraging your employees to take small breaks throughout the day. Whether they be stretch breaks, walking breaks, etc., it is important to continue reminding employees they are allowed and encouraged to take few moments to step away as needed and that taking a break is good for their health.
Advocating for your employees to take their well-being assessment through blue connect is also important since it covers the topic of financial health in addition to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Not only is this a free option, but it also serves to create a level of necessary awareness for your employees to see where they stand in all domains including support for areas they can focus on to improve. The Blue Connect resources available in the Healthy Outcomes wellness portal provide great tools to help support and educate members on all areas of their health.
Providing the awareness to your workforce and making the small steps suggested here are a great way you can ensure your employees have the support they need to perform their best at work.
Even more importantly, your employees will feel supported and cared for, which is a win-win for everyone!