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Financial concerns affect one in five employees, says Barclays

One in five UK workers admit that worries about their personal finances affect their performance at work, according to research from Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions.

The Barclays report, Financial Wellbeing: The Last Taboo in the Workplace?, is based on a survey of over 2,000 UK employees. It also found that over half of employees (55%) have savings that would last for less than two weeks. 

Almost half (46%) of workers are worried about their financial future, with only 35% feeling optimistic, the research found. For 18% of employees, the situation is so bad it regularly causes them to lose sleep. Around one in ten employees (11%) are categorised as financially "slipping" (having no savings and regularly spending more than they earn). 

The report also shows a disconnect between employers and staff about the level of financial education and support employees receive. 

More than two-thirds (69%) of employers believe that employees feel the organisation is concerned about their financial wellbeing, when in reality only 10% of employees believe this.

Katharine Photiou, head of workplace savings at Barclays Corporate & Employer Solutions, told HR magazine the impact of these financial concerns on employees "must not be underestimated".

"If the same proportion of employees had a serious health issue, it would be viewed as an epidemic and the employer would apply urgent medical attention in the workplace," she said. "The same approach should be applied to addressing the critical issue of financial wellbeing."

"The effect of these financial worries has the same impact as not sleeping," she explained. "Employees can feel distracted, disengaged and just wanting to get home."

Photiou added that employees often feel uncomfortable talking about their financial problems with work colleagues, describing it as "the final workplace taboo".