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It’s Blue Monday again!  How can employers support employees with financial worries?

Monday 17th January 2022 is Blue Monday.  Where did this name come from?  Blue Monday evolved because the third Monday in January is thought to be one of the gloomiest days of the year due to the cold and dark, and post-Christmas blues and bills.

However, whilst Blue Monday gets the media attention, these things are not necessarily specific to just one day, and managers may be aware that some of their employees find this time of year difficult. 

In this blog, we explore how managers can offer support around the topic of an employee who is concerned about their personal finances.

January is a long month, and many people may have over-spent during the Christmas period, which can lead to a “too much month left at the end of the money” scenario for some.  If you are a manager and an employee approaches you about money worries, it is good to know what support you can direct them to.  If you have an Employee Assistance Provider (known as an EAP), then many of these will be able to provide information and guidance regarding financial matters, and so it is good to check if this is available so that employees can be directed there. 

If you do not have an EAP, the government’s Money and Pensions service or Mind are appropriate resources to direct people to.  Whilst you cannot give financial advice yourself (unless you are regulated to do so), you can encourage employees to reach out to trusted sources, and as such you can suggest that they speak to the government service before agreeing to work with a private debt consolidation provider, who may seem to offer all the answers, but will charge a fee.

If somebody is in debt and is reaching out for support for the first time, this can be an incredibly difficult conversation for them to have.  Some people may not have worked out the total amount they owe previously, and so setting all of this out can take time and be hard to face.  Asking for help can be difficult too, and it is understandable that an employee in this situation is very unlikely to want their colleagues to know about it!  As such, if you are able to arrange for your employee to have some time away from their work to make the call in a private place in the workplace, or at home, then this is more likely to make the conversation mor meaningful.

If an employee asks for an advance on their wages, there are a few things to check before agreeing this.  Here at ViewHR, we recommend that employers have a clause in their contracts enabling them to recover any debts from the employee, and that clear paperwork is put in place each time.  You should also check if the employee owed any money already, as we do not want to create a situation where it is impossible for them to pay the money back.  You should also ensure that this does not contradict any organisational policies, and should be prepared to treat all employees fairly.

Financial worries can be a significant distraction, and may impact on an employee’s performance, particularly if they are worried about losing their home.  As such, a non-judgemental and supportive approach can benefit both employee and employer.

Here at ViewHR we are here to help if managers have any queries about how they can support their employees.  Please contact us today if you have a specific matter you would like to discuss, or if you would like to explore proactive measures to ensure your employees are appropriately supported in the future.