Significant discrepancies in how employers and employees perceive financial wellbeing support are stopping staff from sharing their money worries openly at work, according to new research.

Close to three-quarters (68%) of employees who say they receive zero financial wellbeing support at work are unwilling to share money worries with their employer. However, this drops to just 36% for those who say they do receive financial wellbeing support.

This is especially significant considering 29% of UK employees say they receive zero financial wellbeing support at all from their employer. And yet every single one of the 660 senior HR professionals surveyed said their organisation provided support.

The new research paper, Dynamics in Financial Wellbeing: The Stigma Report 2023, from financial wellbeing platform Bippit, also surveyed 5000 UK employees to explore how organisations can better tackle money stigma in the workplace.

There was a further disconnect between HR and employee perception highlighted by the research, with 84% of HR professionals saying they provide an environment that encourages employees to share money worries, and just 52% of employees agreeing with this sentiment.

And while 84% of senior HR professionals say their organisation has asked their staff how they’re doing with money in the last three years, just 41% of employees agree.

“Encouraging open money conversations is a critical business initiative, so that employees can be signposted to the right financial wellbeing support at the right time. Without this our organisations are left with an elephant in the room when it comes to financial stress,” said Sam Lathey, CEO, Bippit. “It’s important that employers consider not only what they offer in terms of financial care, but also how their engagement comms impact the perception of this support, because it’s clear that trust and willingness to talk are influenced by how much employees believe their organisation is doing in terms of financial wellbeing.”

Overall, under half (48%) of employees are comfortable talking about money issues and, in fact, more of them (but still a rather lamentable 52%) would rather talk about their mental health issues with their employer.

The problem is most acute at both ends of the age spectrum. 74% of the over 55s and 70% of the 18-25 year olds would not confide in their employer compared to 58% across all ages. And, interestingly, more than double the number of women (50%) as men (21%) said they weren’t comfortable sharing money worries in the workplace.

Michael Royce, Senior Policy Manager at the Money and Pensions Service, said:
“Talking about money helps people make better financial decisions, have stronger relationships and share the burden that problems can cause. It’s clear that some people are looking to do this at work, so it’s important to understand how and why they might need their employer’s support. This report is a welcome addition to our understanding and it offers some important insights into what people are struggling with and how we can help. We look forward to working with Bippit and other stakeholders during our annual Talk Money Week as we seek to improve financial wellbeing in the workplace.”