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December 1, 2022

Six Tips to Help Your Employees Manage Financial Anxiety

Stephen Massey

Against a backdrop of high-profile company layoffs, a rocky stock market, skyrocketing prices across the country and 90% of CEOs predicting a recession in the next 12 months, employees are understandably anxious about their financial future.

This matters for employers in two ways: 

  • When anxiety endures, it impacts our ability to focus and perform our daily tasks.
  • People look to their employers for support with their financial concerns, and they trust their employers to give them good information.

Those were some of our expert speakers’ takeaways at our most recent business briefing on Managing Recession Anxiety.

Here are six strategies for employers to help workers address their financial anxiety:

  • Communicate early and often. With layoffs in the news, and worries potentially growing among your employees, your people want to know where they stand. This is an opportunity to build trust by addressing their concerns and letting them know what’s ahead.
  • Lean on your EAP vendors to go the extra mile in educating your employees about what’s available to them. Many employee assistance programs (EAPs) come with some type of financial counseling, but many workers don’t know what’s available to them. 
  • Make it safe to talk about these issues openly. There’s a real stigma around talking about financial anxiety, and yet the basic human response to anxiety is to retreat — which makes addressing that anxiety even more challenging. Make it a habit to share information about how to access financial well-being programs, and ensure confidentiality for anyone who reaches out.
  • Tailor your outreach for different workforce communities. Keep in mind, for example, that Black households typically have less accumulated wealth than white households, even at the same level of income. Employees closer to retirement age will have different perspectives than early-career workers, too. Consider hosting separate sessions on different aspects of financial health, and build out programming in coordination with employee resource groups.
  • Train your managers on how to talk about these issues and direct their teams to assistance. It’s a good sign if workers feel comfortable discussing their anxieties with their managers — but it can add to the managers’ burdens if they’re not equipped to be helpful. Our Conversation Guide for Managers can help guide productive discussions. 
  • If layoffs are a reality at your company, be direct but kind. People can process concrete facts better than speculation. Lead with kindness, and let all your employees understand why cuts must be made and what the practical effects will be. This will help your remaining employees direct their energies forward. Helping anyone who is laid off get their next job is not only a decent gesture, it has reputational value for your company, too. So, consider outplacement support. If one of your direct reports was laid off, write them a recommendation (and don’t wait for them to ask for it).