As the effects of COVID-19 continue to impact on many aspects of home and work life, financial wellbeing is likely to be a concern for many staff. It's important that employers support their staff to maintain overall mental wellbeing, including good financial wellbeing, during this extraordinary time.
Financial wellbeing is part of a person's overall health and wellbeing, and can be defined as:
- being able to respond to unforeseen expenses
- understanding how to financially plan for the future
- managing debt and a budget properly
- contributing to a pension scheme
- having the knowledge to make good financial decisions and understanding of where and how to seek advice and support
- being free from financial worry and distress.
Poor financial wellbeing is likely to have a wide-ranging negative impact on staff at work.
- Affected staff are likely to be between 25-34 days less productive a year, on average, compared to those without financial worries (source: Salary Finance).
- 10 per cent of affected employees report a reduction in their ability to concentrate or make decisions (source: CIPD).
The financial wellbeing of staff will be impacted differently by the pandemic both in the short and longer term. An employer’s response and support for staff should therefore take into account their differing circumstances. For example, staff themselves or their relatives/spouses may:
- experience a reduced or loss of salary
- have incurred increased costs at home due to school closures or increased caring responsibilities
- be concerned or anxious about the long-term impact of the pandemic on their financial stability.
Ways employers can support staff with their financial wellbeing
There are a number of steps employers can take to continue to support staff with their financial wellbeing. They can:
- encourage line managers and staff to have open conversations about financial wellbeing, and signpost to the national discounts and tax and expenses arrangements provided to NHS staff
- ensure staff are aware of their own financial reward package, including the NHS pension scheme and provisions such as death in service
- support staff to understand more about their financial wellbeing via signposting to any organisational financial wellbeing strategy or external advice and support
- actively communicate the current financial wellbeing package the organisation can offer staff and make sure it's easy for staff to access
- promote national support mechanisms that can support staff with their financial wellbeing such as
- the Financial Conduct Authority offers guidance on the national provisions around mortgage holidays during the pandemic
- national organisations such as the Money Advice Service offer general advice on this subject.
Employers and line managers should keep updated on national decisions regarding financial support and ensure they can signpost staff appropriately.
It may be possible to make local arrangements which support staff in non-financial ways, such as partnerships between the NHS and foodbanks to support staff access necessities if they are facing financial hardship.
Financial Wellbeing Guide
In August 2020 a guide was launched that looks at financial wellbeing and how the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified inequalities and heightened financial worries, particularly among women, younger people, black and minority ethnic groups, and people with disabilities.
The report was developed by Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) and the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work, of which NHS Employers is a member.
It includes practical guidance to help organisations take action to support their workforce’s financial wellbeing, and covers:
- identifying the scale of the problem in your organisation
- reducing the stigma for staff to come forward
- gaining senior leadership buy-in
- developing and evaluating a financial wellbeing strategy, which becomes part of an organisation’s overall business strategy
- minimum expectations of all employers and examples of effective practice.
Read the full report on financial wellbeing.
For further support, access our guidance on implementing a financial wellbeing strategy, and NHS England and NHS Improvement's COVID-19 financial wellbeing guidance.
Financial wellbeing support available to NHS staff
National support for NHS staff
NHS England and NHS Improvement have partnered with the Money Advice Service, an organisation who work to improve people’s financial wellbeing across the UK, to provide NHS staff with free, independent support. NHS staff can access the free and impartial money advice telephone support line available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm on 0800 448 0826. NHS staff can alternatively add +44 7701 342 744 to their WhatsApp and send the Money Advice Service’s national support team a message for help with sorting out debts, credit questions and pensions guidance
Online Events on ‘Managing your Money’
NHS England and NHS Improvement are hosting a series of interactive learning conversations focusing on supporting NHS staff to manage their finances. The online events feature expert speakers from the Money Advice Service and partners taking NHS staff through a range of financial wellbeing topics. You can catch up and watch previous recordings on the NHS Horizons website.
For more information about the full range of support available, download this useful Financial wellbeing support for all our NHS people pdf produced by by NHS England and NHS Improvement.