The Cost-Of-Living Impacts on Employee Psychological Wellbeing
In a time where the cost of living is soaring and doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon, many individuals are dealing with the psychological and emotional burden of this. The impact of rising living expenses on mental health and wellbeing should not be underestimated and it is crucial for employers to recognise and address the challenges their colleagues are facing and how this may be impacting their work. Research has shown individuals experiencing financial stress are more likely to develop mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. This blog post explores the psychological impacts of this crisis and discusses the ways in which employers can support their teams in these difficult times.
So, What Are The Impacts We Currently Know Of?
1. Poor Self-Care
One impact of the escalating cost of living crisis is that individuals are finding themselves unable or less able to engage in activities beneficial for mental wellbeing. Things such as meeting with friends, going on trips, enjoying takeaways, or pursuing hobbies are increasingly becoming luxuries that many can no longer afford. Statistics show this is even impacting the number of individuals exercising with 12% of adults claiming they exercise less due to the cost of gym memberships, classes, clubs etc (1). By not engaging in these things which truly make us happy as individuals it is no surprise that these have huge impacts on psychological wellbeing.
2. Sleepless Nights
Money worries and restful sleep are not the best of friends. Sleep deprivation resulting from financial concerns is an all-too common issue with 52% of psychological therapists reporting that their clients lose sleep due to money related stressors (2). Research has found individuals to be 2.5 times more likely to experience mental distress when getting less than 6 hours sleep compared to those who slept longer (3). Poor sleep also has implications on other area of life such as productivity at work, creating a cycle of stress, exhaustion, and reduced performance.
3. Reduced Access To Therapy
For those who had previously been able to afford to invest in therapy to manage their mental health, the increased financial strain has forced many to cut back on sessions or rely on public services. This shift not only compromises the well-being of individuals but also places added pressure on public healthcare systems which are already stretched thinly.
4. Strained Relationships
The cost of living can have a knock-on effect to many areas of life due to increased stress, particularly straining relationships. As money worries grow, it is no surprise that tensions within relationships and families can lead to more arguments. This often has a knock-on effect to mental wellbeing such as increased stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts (4).
Your Employer Responsibility For Employee Financial & Mental Wellbeing
As an employer, it can be difficult to know which steps to take in supporting your team through these psychological impacts so we have put together a few practical ideas you may want to implement.
1. Destigmatise Mental Health Discussions
Create a workplace environment that encourages open conversations about mental health struggles. Promote the mental health support you can offer via emails, posters, and awareness campaigns. By normalising these discussions, employees are much more likely to seek support in times of need.
2. Provide sufficient Financial & Mental Wellbeing Education
Support employees by providing them with the knowledge and skills to identify and address their mental health and financial challenges effectively. These resources will help to empower individuals aswell as teach them how to navigate their money worries and make informed decisions.
3. Regular Check-Ins
Support your team by scheduling regular individual and team meetings to check in with your colleagues. These meetings provide opportunities for team members to express their concerns and seek help when needed.
3. Offer Employee Benefits
If this is an option, consider implementing employee benefits that include access to external mental health support such as therapies and counselling. Having this in place ensures you have somewhere to direct your team if they do approach you with concerns and worries about their mental wellbeing. Other benefits could include paying a living wage, offering subsidised or free meals at work or support towards travel costs.
By implementing practical strategies, businesses can help their teams navigate financial and emotional challenges leading to healthier, happier, and more productive employees.