Financial stress: 6 measures to help affected employees

July 10, 2024

Financial stress has become the most common stress trigger worldwide. But how do you recognize financial worries and what can employers do to help people with money worries?

Likeminded Editorial Team

Table of Content

More people than ever are currently struggling with the general and their personal economic situation: energy prices are rising, as is inflation, and we keep reading about waves of redundancies.

The result is a high level of uncertainty among employees, more than a thrid of whom (36%) were already living paycheck to paycheck in Germany in 2020, according to a study. This means that one in three people already had no financial cushion before the current wave of inflation.

And the greater financial worries become, the more serious their impact on people’s everyday lives and health. Because one thing is clear: money worries make you ill.

  • Financial stress is the most common stress trigger worldwide.

  • 19% of Germany cite financial worries as the main reason for stress.

  • 46% of all people in debt suffer from mental health problems.

  • 86% of respondents to a British study confirmed that financial stress has a negative impact on their mental health problems.

What is financial stress?

Many things in our lives can cause stress. For many, the cause of stress, as already mentioned, can be found in finances. Financial stress becomes problematic when it goes beyond everyday money worries and becomes a constant feeling of insecurity and anxiety. When we suffer from financial stress, these feelings dominate our everyday lives. As a result, we are constantly stressed and therefore irritable and restless. We are then barely able to relax. Such a chronic feeling of insecurity and anxiety has an impact on our body and mind.

How are financial worries and mental well-being linked?

The figures and study findings mentioned above paint a clear picture of the vicious circle between financial worries and mental health. The more we worry, the more our mental health suffers. And the more our mental health suffers, the more we worry.

The vicious circle:

> Mental health problems make it difficult to earn and manage money

> This can lead to financial worries

> Financial worries cause stress and anxiety

> This can exacerbate existing health problems

Why it pays off for companies to do something for financial wellbeing

One of the strongest reasons for supporting financial wellbeing is to increase employee retention. PricewaterhouseCoopers found in a survey that a third of all employees are currently planning to change jobs. 65% of them cite money as the main reason for their desire to change jobs. Financially stressed employees are twice as likely to look for a new job than employees who feel comfortable with their finances.

According to this survey, support for greater financial well-being is also a positive factor in employer branding: more than half of all employees – regardless of whether they suffer from financial stress or not – feel attracted to a company that takes more care of its employee’s financial well-being and would therefore consider a change – often regardless of the salary factor.

Additionally, more and more people are having to worry about their finances. As an employer, you can hardly avoid the topic anymore. This is because the resulting stress inevitably spills over from personal to professional life. The most common physical and psychological symptoms of stress include:

  • Tiredness

  • Headaches

  • Nausea, stomach pain and digestive problems

  • Irritability, aggression, frustration

  • Problems falling asleep and staying asleep

  • Dejection and sadness

These symptoms can manifest themselves in the workplace, for example in the form of

  • less productivity,

  • lower motivation and

  • a generally poorer mood.

So if you as an employer want satisfied, motivated and productive employees, you should actively tackle existing stress factors and avoid additional ones as far as possible. And since finances are such a big stress factor at the moment, it pays to actively offer support.

How to recognize financial stress in employees

As a company, the first challenge is to recognize whether and, if so, how many of your employees are affected by financial stress. There is a lot of shame surrounding the topic and it is not easy to clearly link the symptoms to this problem.

This makes it all the more important to look and listen. And to inquire: first and foremost, with the employees themselves. In addition, the HR department should regularly discuss the issue with managers, as direct supervisors are usually quicker to notice when something is wrong.

As a company, don’t wait until the financial stress leads to mental problems, your employees ask for advances or even enforcement authorities approach you. Respond to the first signs, such as concentration problems of irritability, and actively seek a conversation.

6 measures for more financial well-being in the company

To prevent financial worries from leading to chronic stress, there are several measures you can take as a company:

  1. Make financial worries a topic of conversation within the company:

  • For example, design an internal communication campaign around it.

  • Address the topic regularly in formal and informal meetings.

  1. Listen actively:

  • Find out what form of support currently makes sense.

  • Make your company a safe place to talk about mental wellbeing.

  • Offer discussions with external coaches to make it easier for those affected to exchange ideas.

  1. Support your employees with financial benefits:

  • Cashback, scholarships, employee discounts

  • Support in drawing up financing plans, for example for buying a house or during training

  • Free or subsidized childcare services

  • Retirement and health care as well as insurance benefits

  1. Organize workshops and training sessions for personal financial planning:

  • The topic of financial stress can be addressed and tackled together in group workshops and exchange groups.

  • Webinars provide a good first insight into topics such as personal budgeting, credit management and the like.

  • One-on-one sessions with qualified coaches and therapists can show particularly stressed people tailored solutions. 

  1. Make the company’s financial situation transparent:

  • Talk about how your company is doing financially and get the topic out of the taboo corner.

  • Organize regular financial updates for your employees and talk not only about successes, but also about challenges.

  1. For the sake of completeness, it should also be said here: Pay your employees enough so that they can cover their basic needs with their income and pay their salaries on time:

  • Find out about the current cost of living in the regions where your employees live.

  • Listen to the individual challenges of your employees. Even if a salary increase is not currently possible, there are other ways to offer your support.

  • Also talk to part-time employees to find out whether their current working hours and salary model still suits them.

If a company wants to support its employees on the path to financial well-being, it is not automatically about salary increases. Rather, it is about making space for the topic, offering help in various forms and ensuring that this help can be used without shame or reservations, so that the employees concerned become more active themselves.

What each individual can do to combat financial stress

In terms of self-efficacy, it is important that those affected address the issue and do something about it, especially in times when money worries are getting bigger rather than smaller. Here are a few tips on how each and every individual can counteract financial stress:

  1. Concentrate on what you have.

  2. Accept the things you can’t change.

  3. Recognize, name and talk about your feelings in order to better deal with the uncertainty surrounding financial worries.

  4. Don’t rush things: make one financial decision at a time. 

  5. Make your spending visible by documenting it. There are many free apps for this or you can create an Excel sheet.

  6. Find out what stresses you out the most when it comes to finances.

  7. Observe how you deal with money worries and think about alternatives.

  8. Confide in other people and get help from experts.


The economic situation is tense and energy prices, inflation and waves of redundancies are leading to uncertainty among people. Both professionally and privately, this often results in more dissatisfaction and less productivity. Many studies show that it pays off for companies to support their employees during this difficult time – and beyond – in order to minimize financial stress and its negative effects.

In the end, taking steps to improve financial wellbeing will improve the overall mental health of your workforce and therefore employee retention, employee satisfaction, your employer branding and more.

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