Mindful Employer Leeds hears from Jacob Day, our colleague running the Money & Me service at Leeds Mind. Jacob kindly shares some practical tips for employers on how to open up conversations and support people who are struggling with money worries.
Hi, I’m Jacob, I run the ‘Money & Me’ service at Leeds Mind. We support individuals whose mental health is associated with their financial wellbeing. Here are some tips I have picked up for spotting the signs that someone may be struggling with money, and how to initiate open and honest conversations about money.
Spotting the signs
Firstly, there are many life events and circumstances that are likely to impact a person’s financial security, such as a long-term illness, divorce, or bereavement. We should be mindful of this when someone is going through such an event. Signs that somebody in the workplace is struggling with money worries may include;
- Seeming distant, agitated or unfocused; money worries can make it difficult to focus on other tasks
- Seeming tired or low in energy; money worries can affect sleep and constant stress and worry can be mentally draining
- No longer spending money on things they enjoy; does the staff member no longer socialise outside of work when they previously had? Does the staff member no longer seem to participate in activities in their leisure time that they had previously enjoyed?
- Spending impulsively; alternatively, struggling with mental and financial wellbeing can lead us to avoid planning for the future, which may cause short-term, impulsive behaviours. Does the staff member seem to be spending beyond their means? Do they seem to be making impulsive, short-term decisions?
Opening up conversations about money and challenging stigma:
One small positive to the terrible cost of living crisis is that it gives us all a point of reference to organically initiate conversations about money. My hope is that the current crisis will allow us all to combat the stigma around debt and money issues by having open conversations about how we are coping. Nobody has been safe from rising costs this summer, and this gives us all an opportunity to discuss money worries in an empathetic way, free of guilt or judgement.
When beginning discussions about money worries, it has been useful to open with questions like “I can’t believe how much my energy bills have risen over the past couple of months, how have you been managing with yours?”.
It may also be useful to really consider the language we use when discussing money. For example, using language such as money problems, or fixing debt may increase those feelings of shame and blame by implying the person has done something wrong. Replacing such language with phrases such as “what are your money goals?” and “learning more about money” may be more conducive to initiating open and honest conversations.
Also, although it may be tempting, try to avoid discussing the numbers behind a person’s money worries. This may feel intrusive and can increase a person’s anxiety, especially if they have been avoiding thinking about the answer to this question.
Supporting staff whose money worries may be affecting their performance
Offering empathy and reducing stigma through nurturing open conversations is one way that you can support staff, but there may also be practical things you can do. For example, offering ‘financial wellbeing’ sessions with staff, where tips and advice can be given on topics such as pensions, money management and ways to save money may be useful.
The timings of salary payments can also impact a staff member’s ability to manage their money over the month. Supporting staff to organise their outgoing bills so that bills are paid shortly after receiving their salary could be hugely helpful.
Lastly, there are several financial services within Leeds, such as Money Buddies and Step Change, that have been hugely helpful in supporting some of my clients to manage their debts.
In addition, Money & Me is also open to self-referrals for anyone struggling with their spending habits or their money related stress. Promoting such services and raising awareness to staff may help them receive the support they require.
Further information on such services can be found below;
Step Change; https://www.stepchange.org/
Money Buddies; https://moneybuddies.org.uk/
Money & Me; https://www.leedsmind.org.uk/services/money-and-me-service/
See also our 20 Top Tips on supporting staff wellbeing during the cost of living crisis: Financial wellbeing – 20 TOP TIPS for employers – Sep 22
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