Debt in the Workplace


Tom ChapmanContent Manager at Bridgewater Finance Group

Friday, May 8, 2020

With coronavirus affecting the world, many businesses and employers are just trying to adapt to the now. Numerous firms have had to cease economic activity, thousands of staff members have been made redundant, and some sectors – such as retail, leisure, and hospitality – have changed overnight.

Article 4 Minutes
Debt in the Workplace

Understandably, the focus for companies is how to survive at the moment, and worry about the future later. However, with economists predicting tough times, we need to be prepared for how these uncertain times will affect staff. One of the most likely outcomes is more employees getting into debt.

How debt affects workplace productivity

Many employers will argue the debts of staff members are none of their concern – a similar attitude to how the private lives of workers are treated. However, as a survey published by asset management company Close Brothers revealed, more than 90% of employees worry about money. Of those, at least 75% stated these concerns affected their productivity at work.

At the very least, an employee in debt could lose focus on their tasks or spend time obsessing about their financial situation. Perhaps at the worst, these fears could lead to mental health conditions (such as depression) or even an accident at work.

Here’s how your staff could be affected if they’re dealing with debt:

Interruptions from phone calls

An employee who owes debts to multiple lenders will get chased by them. Furthermore, as these creditors probably operate on the same business hours as your company, expect these phone calls to take place during business hours.

Even if a phone call lasts just a few minutes, that’s enough to break a staff member’s productivity. Worse, if phone calls keep happening, this will start affecting other employees in the vicinity.

Tiredness and distraction from other employment

If someone is experiencing money troubles, they might choose to gain additional employment to bring in extra funds. However, a second job can have a detrimental effect on your workplace. Expect these staff members to be tired and worrying about their additional commitments towards the end of their shifts.

This, again, leads to distraction.

Increased sickness

Although a distracted employee may be more likely to cause an accident at work – especially if they operate machinery – the additional stress associated with money worries can result in them getting sick. In both cases, this will lead to increased absence.

Reduced morale

Suffering money troubles can also contribute to depression so expect those struggling to suffer from reduced morale. This not only affects them but can influence those in their team as well.

Employee debt is your concern

As demonstrated, debt in the workplace can have a variety of negative effects. To get the most from your workforce, this is something you’ll have to tackle. Fortunately, there are several ways you can do this:

Openly talk about debt

Debt is unfortunately treated as a taboo topic. As such, staff members traditionally aren’t inclined to discuss the matter. In fact, previous research has found individuals are more likely to discuss their sex lives with a stranger than money matters.

Letting staff members know its ok to talk about debt could be a good way to resolve the issue. Consider seeking the services of a third-party EAP (Employee Assistance Program).

Organise financial workshops

Workshops are often good opportunities to develop employee skills. If you’re aware that staff members are struggling financially, consider working with a firm to disseminate information on matters such as debt solutions or consolidation loans

Due to debt being such a taboo topic, many don’t know the options available to them – or believe this is something they need to address on their own.

Offer overtime

Although this is something which will have to be balanced extremely carefully to avoid employees suffering from burnout, allowing staff members the opportunity to earn extra cash may help in resolving debts.

The future may be uncertain – but let’s work through it together

With coronavirus changing the world, our economy, and our lives, the future is very uncertain. Few can accurately predict what our country will look like next year or the year after that. However, it’s almost certain we’re due for a recession. During this time, expect your employees to start struggling with money.

You can choose to ignore it – and suffer the consequences – or recognise it’s a problem which can be dealt with. Fundamentally, by tackling the issue of debt in your workplace, everyone benefits.

Tom Chapman

Tom Chapman is the Content Manager at Bridgewater Finance Group in Manchester, UK. The firm specializes in debt solutions and opening the conversation about debt.


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