One out of every four UK households is said to be in debt, with the average debt in excess of £53,000 per family. Therefore, it is not surprising that many employers are finding that debt worries are making their way into the workplace as that is the environment where people in full-time employment spend the majority of their waking time.
In order to minimise the impact debt has on the workforce, employers need to think about how they can help employees manage their debt. Here are three ways employers can help their staff with this distressing problem.
Spot the signs
Watch out for the signs that could indicate that a staff member is struggling with debt. According to the Debt Support Unit, such signs include increased absences, defensive or overly emotional behaviour, reluctance to attend social events, asking for salary advances, and stress-related absences.
Break the taboo
Many people are hesitant to discuss financial problems with others, and this can lead to a reluctance to seek help. Creating a work environment where workers feel comfortable opening up about money worries is an important step toward helping them deal with issues before they become any worse. Instead of specifically urging staff to talk about their personal debt, however, it is best to maintain an open-door, free communication policy so that employees feel that they can talk to their managers or even HR about any issues they are facing.
Signpost places where help can be found
Even if you do not know or suspect that one of your staff members is struggling to deal with a debt problem, it is a good idea to ensure that everyone in the workforce is aware of resources that can provide help and advice. Signposting where they may find answers to questions such as what is an IVA or how to manage money more efficiently will be useful, especially for those who would rather not discuss their private matters in the office. Pointing them to third-party organisations or companies specialising in IVA advice and other debt management solutions will also be helpful.
Employers should also be aware that other personal or even work-related problems could also be causing behavioural changes, and they should be mindful of their employees’ right to privacy.