BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM – 7 September 2023 – Over three quarters (77%) of workers in the UK and Ireland (UK&I) have experienced financial stress in the past 12 months, according to research by HR and payroll specialists Zellis. The research shows that stress is felt more widely amongst under 35s (83%), and that nearly half of those surveyed state that they are losing sleep over financial stress, leading to them being tired and less productive at work.

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting employees across the UK in a variety of ways, from rising mortgage rates to increasing food prices. To better understand how the crisis impacts people’s working lives, Zellis surveyed over 2,500 workers in non-managerial roles across the UK&I in July 2023. The research reveals that the stress resulting from financial worries is starting to impact professional lives; over half (54%) of people who have experienced financial distress over the past 12 months admit that it has had a detrimental impact on their productivity at work. The figure rises to 61% amongst workers under 35, whilst male workers are more likely to report a drop in their productivity levels due to financial stress (63%) than their female colleagues (50%).

Financial wellbeing 2023 - The consequences of financial stress and worry at work

Our research shows that two of the most pressing socio-economic challenges in the UK are related: the crisis of persistent low productivity growth across the economy, and the extremely low levels of mental and physical health across the workforce.”

Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer, Zellis

Gethin added: “Performance is important to wellbeing, with employees getting a sense of purpose and belonging at work by being successful. With financial worries clearly impacting workers across the UK, it’s more critical than ever for business leaders to start thinking of investment in wellbeing not as an insurance against people falling ill in the future, but as a means to drive greater performance and productivity today.” 

The research reveals that over three-quarters (76%) of those employees who have experienced financial stress can highlight at least one way in which money worries are having a negative consequence at work. These most commonly include employees losing sleep over financial stress leading to them being tired at work (45%), lacking focus and concentration in the workplace (33%), becoming more error-prone (17%), and being less able to communicate effectively (14%). 

“It’s striking that so many employees are now reporting that they feel stressed or anxious about their finances,” said Jacqui Summons, Chief People Officer at EMIS Health, and Non-Executive Director at Zellis.

The fact that the research shows such a clear link between financial wellbeing and performance at work should make business leaders in all industries stand up and take notice. Employee wellbeing is rightly regarded as a key component of talent acquisition and retention strategies but there is evidently a business benefit as well.” 

Jacqui Summons, Chief People Officer at EMIS Health, Non-Executive Director at Zellis

The research also found that 56% of employees now check their payslips in detail, representing a significant jump from just 43% in 2022 when a similar survey was carried out. Despite these increasing anxieties, employees often remain unclear on the information contained on their payslips. 43% state that they would not confidently be able to identify an error with their tax code, and 39% would be unlikely to spot an issue with their pension contribution. Even when it comes to gross and net pay, around one in five employees doesn’t feel confident that they would be able to spot a mistake on their payslip. 

Zellis commissioned a comprehensive survey of employees across a range of sectors in the UK and Ireland, with 2,502 non-managerial workers being interviewed by Insight Avenue in July 2023.

Access the full research report here.