The UK’s population is facing a potential debt crisis, with the average personal debt burden being around £30,000 now. Lots of people are finding it harder and harder to service their debt because the cost of living is rising and wages aren’t – or at least, not in line with inflation.
There’s nothing more demoralising that someone who works hard being unable to pay their way through life and to settle their debts. Many people live in fear of the car needing new tyres or even the kids outgrowing their school uniforms a bit too soon because this can compromise a month’s repayments. As an employer or HR manager, you have a duty of care towards your staff to watch for signs of financial trouble and to step in to help. This doesn’t mean by giving them an advance or an unscheduled pay rise – you could instead point them towards a debt resolution company like Creditfix, for example.
These are some of the more common signs of serious money worries.
Unusual or unexplained tiredness and burnout
Debt problems often come with their friend insomnia. People can have difficulty falling or staying asleep, or they may wake up too early in the morning. This easily leads to sleep deprivation which in turn means reduced productivity and performance at work. It also often leads to poor relationships with friends, family and colleagues, so it’s important to get the person help as soon as possible.
Poor eating habits
If someone with a previously healthy appetite and diet suddenly goes off their food or is turning to junk food, or even eating far more than they used to then there’s probably some sort of issue. Of course, they may be on a weight-loss diet, but if there’s no obvious reason for this sudden change, then comfort eating (or not eating) could be down to the worry about debts.
Anxiety and nervousness
Just being in debt is a heavy mental load and if someone is getting calls, letters and emails from creditors all the time it can lead to extreme anxiety. If the employee jumps every time a call or text message comes through or seems on edge for no apparent reason, then money could be the culprit.
Asking for salary advances
If an employee is asking for salary advances a little too often, then it’s a sign they’re not managing their finances enough. This is one of the more obvious indicators. Of course, many people ask for an advance at least once – there’s some great flight deal that they can’t miss, for example – but if this one-off request becomes a habit, it’s time to have a talk.
It’s no surprise that money and debt problems can lead to poor mental health. Depression is common here because it’s a reaction to the feelings of hopelessness and constant worry. Thankfully, once the situation is addressed, even if it’ll still be a while until the debt’s paid, the depression often lifts and people feel more in control.
Unfortunately, depression and anxiety cost the UK’s economy around 12 million working days a year, so it’s not only a personal issue, employers need to look after their employees for the good of the company, too.