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Why employees don't discuss financial concerns with employers

One in five people were worried about their finances every day, in the three months leading up to May 2024

Nearly three quarters (74%) of people have not spoken to their employer about their financial concerns, a survey by financial wellbeing platform Wagestream found.

This was despite 60% of people having reported that they worried about their finances at least once a week, in the three months leading up to May 2024.

Employers have a vested interest in supporting employees’ financial wellbeing, according to Michelle Sutton, head of reward and pensions at utility company SUEZ.

She told HR magazine: “While financial wellbeing is a personal matter, employers have a vested interest in ensuring our employees are not overly burdened by financial stress, as it can impact productivity, engagement and overall job performance. 

“As such, there is a moral and practical responsibility for employers to support their employees' financial wellbeing, especially in challenging economic times or when facing significant life events.”

The survey found that 40% did not discuss their financial concerns with their employer because they did not want them to know they were struggling. A further 30% of respondents indicated that they felt ashamed to discuss their money worries with their employer.

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Meanwhile, 18% would not discuss their money worries with their employer because they don't trust them, and 12% reported that they would not tell their employer due to fear of discrimination.

Sutton noted that employers should create a supportive culture to encourage employees to discuss their financial concerns.

She added: “Employers can take proactive steps to create an open and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their financial concerns. 

“By actively fostering an environment of trust, openness, and support, employers can empower their employees to speak up about their financial concerns, and in turn, provide targeted resources and initiatives to alleviate financial stress and promote overall wellbeing.

“This can be achieved through regular communication, emphasising the confidentiality of such discussions, and offering resources like financial education or counselling services.”

Read more: Employers fail to meet increased demand for financial support

Emily Trant, chief impact officer at Wagestream, added that employers should understand the financial needs of their employees to tailor their support.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Employers should make it their mission to truly understand the needs of their workforce, to assess the support they currently offer and acknowledge where the gaps are. 

“Every employee has their own specific needs, so the most popular benefits tend to be those which give increased flexibility, personalisation and control. This might look like flexible working arrangements, or access to flexible money management tools.”

Oliver Walker, partner at management consultancy Aon UK, explained that once employers understand the needs of their employees, they could offer employees personalised and accessible financial wellbeing advice and benefits.

He said: “Once [employers] have destigmatised money conversations, [they can] provide employees with the ability to see their finances in one place; personalised suggestions or notifications on what they might be interested in doing next, and the ability to single click through to their company benefits to make a change.”

Wagestream commissioned Censuswide to survey 2,000 people for its State of Financial Wellbeing Index in May 2024.