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Numeracy plays key role in financial wellbeing, says new research

New research conducted by Zellis explores the relationship between numeracy, financial wellbeing and mental health. 

In addition to the many challenges faced as a result of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis has contributed to a staggering increase in financial stress. As a result, 83% of people now want their employer to focus as much on financial wellbeing as on mental and physical health.

As employers urgently turn to new technologies to support their employees, Zellis’ recent report exposed a hidden but serious barrier to achieving positive financial wellbeing in the workplace: low numeracy skills plague significant parts of the UK and Irish workforce.

The payroll puzzle

Almost half (46%) of UK and Irish workers surveyed during the research admit to low confidence when using numbers at work and in their everyday lives. Only one in seven people claim to be very confident in their numeracy skills. 

Zellis’ report explored how low numeracy impacted people’s behaviours and attitudes in relation to payroll. One finding showed that too many people are not checking their payslip because of low numeracy levels. Just under half (46%) of people avoid doing so because it makes them feel uneasy and concerned about their finances and 38% state their unease is specifically linked to being unable to understand it.

Despite 51% of employees claiming that a mistake with their pay would lead to stress and anxiety and 50% saying it would lead to financial difficulties, 42% doubt they’d be able to spot a mistake on their net pay. Employees also feel that having to discuss payroll errors with their employers and not knowing how to go about checking the information on their payslip could have a negative impact on their mental health. 

Employees are counting on you

If people are significantly less equipped to understand and identify errors on their payslip this creates a critical problem at source fueling an ongoing cycle of poor financial wellbeing and mental health, which employers must help to address. 

Survey respondents who reported  low confidence in their numeracy skills were more likely to report a mental health condition than those with high levels of confidence with numbers (42% versus 31%).  

Encouragingly, the research suggests that employees recognise that employers have taken action to support their mental and emotional wellbeing. However, they are less encouraged by the efforts being made to protect their financial wellbeing.  Only 12% of employees feel their employer is very effective in this regard.

Worried financial wellbeing is affecting your workforce?

Today, the prevalence of financial stress and severity of its impact in the workplace is undoubtedly  exacerbated by the current cost-of-living crisis. As the squeeze on household finances magnifies, workers are calling for their employers to help them navigate the difficult times ahead.

We partner exclusively with best in class organisations in workforce management, banking, payroll services and staff benefits to make it easier for employers to implement flexible financial tools and services built around employees’ pay.

Zellis partners with Wagestream to make it easier for employers to implement our award-winning financial wellbeing app and give their employees access to flexible, fairer financial tools and services built around their pay – with no change to payroll. 

The Wagestream financial wellbeing app gives people access to a certified financial coach in real-time on their phone who can offer expert, personalised, impartial guidance on everything to do with money. This provides a safe and discreet channel for people to start having open conversations around numeracy and payslips, where they can ask questions and get the support they need. 

For more information about the critical need to put measures in place that address the link between numeracy levels and financial wellbeing, read the full report today.