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Employers losing £15bn a year to workers' money worries

Kalila Sangster
Upset depressed mature middle aged woman in panic holding head in hands in front of laptop frustrated by bad news, online problem or being fired by email feeling desperate shocked exhausted concept
Across the UK, an estimated 20.3 million workers are affected by money worries, research shows. Photo: Getty

UK employers are losing around £15.2bn each year in absenteeism, lost productivity and turnover costs due to employees’ financial worries, according to a study.

Employers are losing 2.5 days per employee per year through financial stress-related absences, while 10% of workers struggle to focus because of money worries, found the study by financial wellbeing provider Neyber, which surveyed more than 11,000 workers.

Across the UK, an estimated 20.3 million workers are affected by money worries and for the third year running “financial worries” has been the top concern of employees.

The study suggests that each year, financial worries lead to 1.63 million employees taking time off work, nearly 3 million struggling to focus at work, and 3.6 million looking for a new job.

Three in five employees (62%) felt they were affected by money worries. More than half (52%) were borrowing to meet basic financial needs, 45% said they ran out of money before payday and 36% sometimes or often struggled to pay off their credit card bills.

READ MORE: The richest workers in Britain — and it's not Londoners

Debt is a big worry for employees – many can’t save because they don’t have the spare income and of those with no savings, 80% had debt to repay.

Finances are troubling all age groups with 88% of 18- to 24-year-olds saying they are affected by money worries, closely followed by 82% of all 25- to 34-year-olds. Only those approaching retirement (55+) feel more comfortable with only 46% worrying about money.

Money worries are also not just a low-income problem. Even people with the highest salaries are affected. Although financial worries do decrease with income, almost half (46%) of employees earning over £70,000 per year are worried about money.

Women are worrying about money more than men with 66% of female employees concerned about finances compared with 57% of men.

This is having a huge impact on employees’ mental health with workers reporting depression, stress, anxiety and loss of sleep.

READ MORE: UK employment hits record high despite alarm bells over UK economy

Although the high costs associated with workers’ money concerns are clearly having an impact on businesses, only 56% of employers agreed that their organisation was doing enough to support employees’ financial wellbeing.

Monica Kalia, Neyber’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, said: “While having a financial wellbeing strategy has grown in popularity with employers over the last four years, it’s clear that employees are still struggling. Across the UK, an estimated 20.3 million workers are affected by money worries.

“Providing support that is relevant to the differing needs of employees is important. Financial wellbeing is not just about paying off debt, but about ensuring employees feel in control and confident about their future as well.”