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The wellbeing trinity: physical, mental & financial health

8 min read | 30 September, 2020 By Nick Hardy


Taking a holistic approach to employee welfare in a time of crisis

Breathe’s CEO – Jonathan Richards – recently co-hosted a webinar with Rebecca Bull, Chartered Fellow CIPD and owner of My HR Hub, and Jonathan Roomer, Co-Founder of YuLife, a provider of life insurance which is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of its customers.

The three came to together to examine the close relationship between mental, physical and financial wellbeing at a time when so many people are under immense pressure. They also discussed practical steps business leaders can take to support their people, including the creation of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which are key to signposting people to support resources at a time when they are most needed.

What is an Employee Assistance Program

Why employers need to care about wellbeing 

The links between physical, mental and financial health 

The importance of a holistic approach

Employer attitudes to employee financial health 

Additional resources for your business

What is an Employee Assistance Program?

An effective EAP:

  • Assesses employee health and wellbeing
  • Helps employees with personal problems
  • Improves trust between teams and individuals

EAPs help employers provide:

  • Short-term counselling
  • Referral services
  • Health and wellbeing programs, plus
  • incentives and other corporate benefits

Why employers need to care about wellbeing

Fostering employee wellbeing is good for people and businesses. Promoting wellbeing can help prevent stress and create positive working environments where individuals and organisations can thrive.

At a time when the performance and productivity of UK SMEs - who are by far the biggest contributors to the UK economy - will be key to recovery- the importance of looking after employees and ensuring they are healthy can’t be overstated.

Employee wellbeing isn’t fluffy and a ‘nice to have’; it’s a key aspect of the positive company cultures which are needed more than ever to help businesses push forward and emerge from the crisis.

The links between physical, mental and financial health

The link between mental, physical and financial wellbeing is well established. Money may not buy happiness, but people’s relationship with it can impact their health.  Stress caused by pay levels, lack of financial awareness or an absence of employee benefits can affect work performance and productivity.

In 2019 – long before most of us had even heard of COVID-19 – a Perkbox survey revealed that money is the biggest cause of stress for employed adults, more than a quarter of whom feel stressed about finances every day.

Fast forward to the present and a reduction in household incomes as a result of furlough and redundancy means many adults are facing the greatest financial challenges of their lives.

This stress may well be contributing to a deterioration in people’s physical health. Poor physical health contributes to stress, depression and anxiety levels - there is no doubt of this fact. 

As part of wellbeing programs, employers should think equally about mental, physical and financial health – they are three sides of the same triangle.


The importance of  a holistic approach   

During our webinar, Rebecca stressed the importance of taking an holistic approach to employee welfare where employers provide support that takes their physical, mental and financial wellbeing as a whole.

For employers to understand their employees’ needs at this point in the crisis, Rebecca emphasised the importance of active listening. People need to be heard and understand that managers and business leaders are paying very close attention at a time when so many people are so vulnerable.

Only by listening and meeting the needs of the people who will be key to business and longer terms economic recovery, can business leaders truly succeed in formulating plans that underpin employee wellbeing.

Our panellists recommended the following action to gauge employee opinions and as the basis for creating new or refreshing existing wellbeing programs:

  • Questionnaires
  • Walking meetings
  • ‘Town hall’ open meetings (online while social distancing restrictions are in place)
  • One to one meetings

Employer attitudes to employee financial health

During the webinar – which was attended by nearly 200 SME business leaders – we conducted a poll to assess their attitudes to their team members’ financial health. We were pleased to see the extent to which it is taken very seriously.

  • 100% think there is a link between productivity and mental and physical wellbeing.
  • 91% agreed that there is a link between productivity and financial wellbeing
  • 98% also agreed that financial wellbeing links to mental wellbeing
  • However, just over half (51%) don’t have personal finance advice / recommendations / guidance feature in their HR programme
  • 67% believe that employers have a moral responsibility to support with employee personal finance

Great as it is to see that employee financial health is a priority for most business owners, the fact that more than half don’t currently provide access to personal finance assistance and guidance is a concern. In the current climate and with many people having to tighten their belts as a result of financial pressures, making sure finance is central to new and existing EAPs.

Additional resources for your business

In a recent blog published by YuLife, their CEO – Sammy Rubin – talks about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and that better health starts with better habits. Encouraging and even incentivising employees to look after their all-round health is good for people and good for business.

Rebecca Bull runs a club for people in standalone HR roles called My HR Hub. This is a community of people responsible for HR as part of part of wider roles and a great place to connect with those with similar responsibilities - especially if they're not professionally qualified personnel management specialists. 

Earlier this year, we published a article which discussed five ways employers can help their people’s financial wellbeing.

The COVID-19 support page on our website includes news and resources to help businesses throughout these challenging times.

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Posted on 30 September, 2020

By Nick Hardy

in Health and wellbeing

Tag Health and wellbeing

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