Taking a holistic view of wellbeing 

Business people having meeting in modern office Mark Langridge

Amid the cost-of-living crisis financial worries are among the most pressing challenges to people’s wellbeing.

To support their employees, businesses must understand how financial concerns interact with the other pillars of wellbeing, and at different stages of life. Over the last five years, people’s wellbeing has been placed under greater stress than for a generation. The Covid pandemic followed swiftly by the cost-of-living crisis have forced millions to rethink their work and personal lives and to face financial pressures.

Responsible employers increasingly recognise they have a vital role in supporting the wellbeing of their employees and that financial concerns can easily put other aspects of wellbeing at risk.

There are four principal pillars that combine to create wellbeing: mental, physical, social, and financial. As circumstances change, different pillars may come under stress and the pandemic lockdowns, for example, revealed the huge importance that social interaction has for many people’s wellbeing.

The four pillars of wellbeing

  • Mental

    How you feel. Looking after your emotional and psychological state plays a big role in your general wellbeing.
  • Physical

    Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, allowing you to carry out physical activities without being limited by pain or injury.
  • Social

    We are social creatures, and social wellbeing relates to our relationships with friends, family and others and how we maintain them.
  • Financial

    As we have explored in other blogs, financial wellbeing includes being able to meet day-to-day expenses, as well as coping in emergencies and planning for the future.

Suffering in any one of these four pillars is a challenge, but if two or more of these aspects of wellbeing are under pressure, life can become overwhelming. Today, the financial pillar is under most stress. 

Mercer surveyed more than 2,000 UK employees for its Inside Employee Minds research report. The research found that covering monthly expenses is employees’ biggest concern. Other top concerns include personal debt and the ability to retire.

Such financial issues can impact one or more other pillars of wellbeing by restricting social life, causing mental stress, or even damaging physical ill-health through lack of sleep or poor diet.

The connectivity between the four pillars means that employers must take a holistic approach to wellbeing, to understand the full range of stresses employees face and how financial issues affect different people in different ways.

Life stages – where are your employees on their wellbeing journey?

Every individual’s life is unique, but there are key life stages that are familiar to most people, and which bring their own particular pressures.

Specific events that can have implications for wellbeing – and often financial wellbeing in particular – include buying a home, starting a family, an illness, or a bereavement. Each employee’s life journey will be different, but we can consider that journey as having three stages, each of which brings its own typical stress.

  • Early career 
    Young employees will typically face budgeting challenges, which they will often have to juggle alongside longer-term financial plans such as saving for a home purchase.
  • Mid-career 
    Family life, the cost of home ownership and childcare are common challenges for mid-career employees. People may take a career break to care for family, and elderly relatives may require care or financial support. There is also the possibility of bereavement and inheritance.
  • Late career 
    Looking forward to retirement brings a different set of concerns, with employees later in their career often needing advice on investment or retirement planning and, if they have not done so already, thinking about inheritance and estate planning. 

Understanding who your employees are is vital to design benefits and services that will most effectively support their individual wellbeing needs. Mercer can help you understand your employees’ concerns and needs. We have a range of advice and education programmes that you can provide to your employees to help meet their financial wellbeing needs.

Get in touch today to find out how Mercer can help you support employee wellbeing.

Alana Rae
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