Employee Money Worries Grow as UK Jobless Total Leaps

As new figures show that the number of employees which have lost their jobs in the UK since the Covid-19 restrictions were in place rose by 612,000 research has found that staff were worrying about money long before the pandemic hit.

The Office for National Statistics announced yesterday that over 600,000 people were made redundant between March and May this year, coinciding with a record drop in the number of job vacancies over the same period.

The figures reflect six weeks of the UK coronavirus lockdown, which saw almost nine million UK employees furloughed under the government’s Job Retention Scheme.

Over the period, there were an estimated 476,000 job vacancies in the UK, which is 365,000 down on the same period in 2019.

It came as insurer Aegon UK published research which found the number of British employees facing money worries increased by 5% since 2018 to 74% of all employees.

The survey which was conducted prior to the coronavirus outbreak highlights a potentially worrying trend, given the situation is likely to have deteriorated further in recent months. It also found that money is the most common distraction among UK employees, followed by health and then family problems and that 45% of employees experiencing money worries believe the quality of their work suffers as a result.

The research builds on Aegon’s 2018 study on the financial wellbeing of employees which set out to understand people’s control over their finances, their ability to respond to unexpected financial expense, and their ability to meet financial goals and make choices that allow them to enjoy life.

Worryingly, 29% of employees said that feeling under prepared for a financial emergency is a key cause of their money worries, alongside ongoing financial obligations such as bills and the cost of living.

Thirteen percent of employees now report issues with their productivity at work as a result of money worries, a rise of 2% since 2018 (11%). Among these employees 25% said that it took nearly twice as long as usual or more to complete a routine task at work compared to a regular day.

The number of people taking more than twice as long as usual to complete a routine task at work compared to a regular day has also more than doubled from 5% in 2018 to 12% in 2019.

Financial worries were more common among employees working for smaller companies with less than 250 employees where 32% reported they were just getting by financially compared to 27% in companies employing more than 250 people.

Linda Whorlow, Managing Director of Workplace at Aegon UK said: “It’s really concerning that even prior to the coronavirus outbreak more people were facing money worries. The current situation will no doubt intensify these concerns for employees and will be putting the financial wellbeing of many people at risk.

“With nearly a third of employees feeling under prepared for a financial emergency, the impact of the pandemic will be the ultimate test of financial resilience for many. While some employees might be in a position to make positive changes to their finances through saving on childcare or travel costs, others will not.

“A lot of people and businesses have been helped financially by the government during this time, but once these measures come to an end, employees could turn to their employers for support and guidance.

“It’s key that during such a crisis, employers communicate and inform their employees about the services and support available to help them assess their options.

“Ensuring that employees know the employee benefits they have access to might help them navigate their finances this difficult time.

“And pointing employees in the right direction for the financial guidance and advice they need, could help employers get the best results from their workforce. If money worries are addressed, employers will see better employee focus and productivity from employees.”

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