Now that the excitement of Christmas is officially over, many of us now face a return to reality. This means a return to work, and also facing the post-Christmas squeeze. According to statistics over 16.9 million people in the UK have likely borrowed money during the holidays, and debt can both lead to and exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Whether it’s balances due on credit cards, short term loans, buy-now-pay-later schemes or personal sums from family or friends, money problems can be a real source of day-to-day stress. It is well known that stress kills productivity at work, and the pandemic has introduced an atmosphere of ever-constant worry that adds to the stresses of the day-to-day. As such, money stresses feel more pronounced than ever – particularly in an economy so fragile. This means that, for many, the post-Christmas squeeze feels less like a squeeze, and more like a bearhug.
A vicious cycle tends to emerge when it comes to financial and mental health. A study at the University of Nottingham has shown that people who struggle with debt are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression. One of the symptoms of depression is incredibly low motivation. If you’re brain is telling you to not do anything, then chances are you’re not going to have the energy to deal with financial issues. If your finances worsen, you become more depressed. And so on, and so on. As an employer, this should be cause for concern. Your employees will only be productive if they have a healthy and effective work-life balance, and this work-life balance can only come about if the life part is an relaxed as can be.
That is why compassionate, effective mental health and day-to-day life support is so important to have on an organisational level. In fact, around 45% of sickness absence is directly related to mental health, and 13.8 million working days are lost each year due to stress, anxiety and depression. Not only does mental health massively impact your employees, but it undoubtedly leads to unnecessary cost and a significant loss of productivity. That is why it is so important that your employees have compassionate, effective and responsive mental health services that they can rely on. With the nights long and the weather cold, winter can be tough enough as it is without the burden of financial strain. However organisation and preparation are key to dealing with the financial squeeze. If you have not already done so, it is up to you as an employer to take preventative and proactive action to maintain your employees’ healthy mental wellbeing. The reward for getting this right is a happier, healthier and more productive workforce, and a more successful organisation.