The importance of wellbeing during a cost of living crisis

Nuffield Health’s 2023 Healthier Nation Index recently discovered that 59% of individuals believe the cost of living or changes to personal finance have had a detrimental impact on their mental health over the last year. 

Mental health can be drastically impacted by financial concerns, and without the necessary support, mental health conditions can affect our confidence and our role at work. As a result, the ability to focus and work productively can be impacted, and companies can experience a decline in progress and a rise in time off work with those struggling to cope.

A secondary issue businesses may face are employees taking on an additional role to meet their rising expenses. Research suggests that over 5 million professionals have taken on a second job to help support them with the increased cost of living, and an additional 10 million are considering another position in response to the rising costs. Employees working longer hours to meet these increased demands could have a negative impact on productivity and progress in the workplace. Without the necessary conditions to support employees, the result is an impact on wellbeing and productivity.

Promoting self-care at work

More businesses are supporting employees with prioritising self-care within these challenging conditions. Economic uncertainties are making it difficult for people to afford basic daily necessities, let alone invest in wellbeing-related activities. Individuals working longer hours find it difficult to plan and pursue other activities. The reality is, many people participating in low paid roles or working long hours aren’t in a position to take breaks from work when needed. Low income employees may also lack access to the same resources that higher-income employees have, like fitness facilities and mental health support.

Offering business support

Many companies are pursuing a range of benefits for employees, which they hope will support people during challenging times, such as the current cost of living crisis. Data from the Nuffields report suggests that one in three employees have no access to mental wellbeing services from their employer. Nuffield Health believes responsible businesses should be offering these services to all employees and those that don’t should be committing to investing in the health and wellbeing of their workforce by collaborating with other health providers who are capable of supporting companies with the best offering.

Business leaders must rethink their benefit offering to ensure they promote equality and eliminate potential burnout in the workplace. Changing benefits to tackle the immediate concerns have had a significant positive impact on wellbeing, confidence and loyalty to a business. Offering employees a competitive salary is one way to address the financial challenges associated with the cost of living and having access to relevant benefits is also vital. Offering flexible work options for example, can help employees manage their schedules and reduce the costs associated with commuting.

Where there may be indicators of burnout, financial stress or anxiety, employers should encourage employees towards the wellbeing support available to them. This could include employee assistance plans or behavioural therapy which provide people with access to specialists in health and wellbeing.

During these challenging times, employees want the assurance their employer is looking after them. Wellbeing is deeply connected with feeling value and recognised in an organisation and it’s critical that employees receive the support and understanding they need when needed.

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