20 November 2023

Supporting the financial wellbeing of your employees at Christmas

Snow flakes, sad blue faces and cash falling from the sky.

The festive period is supposed to be a season of cheer and good will to all, but for so many of us it can be a huge source of stress. Research from the National Debt Line shows that nearly 3 million UK adults feel that financial pressures make Christmas less enjoyable, and 2% even lose sleep in the run-up to Christmas because of this.

What is financial wellbeing at work?

Financial wellbeing is a timely issue, especially since the cost-of-living crisis really started to bite. Employers are becoming more and more aware of how interconnected financial wellness and employee productivity are. Nearly 67% of employees are saying poor financial wellbeing is directly affecting their ability to concentrate at work. 

This can be an issue year-round, but there are several extra factors to consider when it comes to financial wellbeing at Christmas. 

Social Pressure

Secret Santa, the big Christmas party, even Christmas jumper days. These are all great ways to build a community among your team, but the costs can quickly add up. Remember: your work Christmas celebrations won’t be the only thing on for your employees. They may also have obligations within friend groups, social clubs and of course within their own family. The stress of juggling each of these can be a real hit to someone’s financial wellbeing.

That won’t be a huge issue for every employee, but it can be a huge source of stress when money troubles rear their head. If these celebrations feel more like obligation, with shame attached to non-attendance, then you have a problem on your hands. 

What can you do

Festivities can be fun, but make sure to create an ‘opt in’ culture to go with them. No one should feel obligated to attend and shell out more money. Equally, they shouldn’t have to provide an excuse, or disclose why they can’t attend. 

January really stings

A lot of organisations will offer some kind of Christmas payroll- particularly when they’re closed over the festive period. This can be useful to make sure payday doesn’t fall on a bank holiday, and a lot of people prefer it as it helps them pay for Christmas without dipping into debt, but it can lead to some big financial wellbeing issues- especially when January really starts to bite and bills start piling up. 

If your Christmas payroll policy isn’t clearly set out, this can lead to confusion and budgeting issues. Likewise, if your employees aren’t super certain how all of this will work (which is particularly common with new hires, as Christmas payroll is often overlooked during onboarding) that can cause their financial wellbeing to take a real hit. 

Christmas bonuses can also be a real issue. Many employees budget around the bonus as a given, and if that bonus isn’t awarded for any reason (whether that’s individual performance or companywide) that can have a hugely damaging knock-on effect for their end of year budget.

In the worst-case scenarios, this can lead employees to predatory payday lenders, as they need a little extra cash to make it to the end of the month. 

What you can do

Tools such as People First payroll use real-time data and interactive payslips to help give your employees a much clearer picture of what they’re being paid and when. This makes budgeting so much simpler, as they won’t be dealing with hypothetical numbers. Knowledge is power when it comes to financial wellbeing!  

Flexible pay solutions may also be of use. This allows employees more control over when they get access to the wages they’ve earned, which can help push them through to the end of the month without dipping into their overdraft, or other more financially dangerous solutions. 

Crisis spending

Despite all our best efforts, Christmas can be an emotionally taxing time. We might be dealing with relatives we don’t normally interact with, stressing about making the ‘perfect Christmas’ and hosting more guests in our homes than any other time of year. Feelings of all kinds are intensified, both good and bad.  

When we’re feeling down, we can turn to harmful behaviours to try and feel better. One that can be especially problematic at this time is known as ‘crisis spending’ where we buy things we don’t need for the endorphin rush. One in three purchases made during the holiday season are made on impulse. 

When budgets are already tight, that can tip someone over the edge into a financial crisis if it’s not managed. 

What you can do

Offering financial coaching services as part of an overall wellness package can really help employees bring their spending under control, as it improves their financial literacy and budgeting skills. 

Final thoughts

If you’re looking to give your employees extra support this Christmas, or even all year round, Financial Wellbeing from MHR could be the solution. Powered by Wagestream, this will give your employees access to a range of tools and services all focused on boosting financial wellbeing. From financial coaching to flexible pay to vouchers on essentials, give your employees the gift of wellness this year. 

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Emma Reid headshot

Emma Reid

Content writer at MHR

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