Q: I think one of my employees is struggling with debt. How can I help them with financial troubles?
A: It is not uncommon for most people to feel their bank accounts getting lighter as the end of the month approaches, but there is a big difference between scrimping until pay day and suffering serious financial debt.
Experiencing money problems can seriously impact an individual’s mental health and overall productivity at work. However, there are several steps you can take to help staff in this situation.
One of the main issues with financial difficulties is they are not always easy to spot, so if you have a suspicion an employee may be struggling with debt, you should speak with them about it.
A private, informal discussion will allow affected individuals the opportunity to explain their situation and let you know about any problems they are experiencing. During these conversations, keep in mind that employees may feel embarrassed, or worried that their financial struggles may impact their job prospects.
Therefore, it is important to remain considerate and reassuring to your staff.
Following these discussions, you may consider offering the individual the chance to work paid overtime, where possible, to earn some extra cash and improve their financial situation.
This will not be an option for all businesses, but may be suitable if you need extra help managing a period of high demand.
While this may offer a useful quick fix for the employee, you should consider how sustainable this practice is in the long term and instead lean towards more reliable solutions.
Ultimately, the best long-term solution would be to provide the employee with expert practical advice on how to manage their money, or debt counselling if their struggles continue to impact their performance at work.
Employee assistance programmes are useful in this regard as they typically offer an array of confidential services designed to support individuals and improve their financial wellbeing, all of which can be accessed 24/7.
Alternatively, you could recommend the employee contacts a registered debt management charity, such as Step Change, which is able to offer free advice and tailored debt management plans. It is important that line managers and human resources personnel are aware of these options and feel comfortable explaining the benefits to affected individuals.
Rather than simply dismissing employees’ financial struggles, you should keep in mind the potential impact this could have on your organisation.
Following the above should help prevent and manage any instances of personal debt that may occur and underline your commitment to being a conscientious and employee-focused organisation.
David Price is managing director of Health Assured