Financial stress and absenteeism: The hidden factor that’s costing the NHS more than just money

We don’t need to tell you that better patient care starts with improving the working lives of your staff. That’s why the NHS Interim Plan has committed to making the healthcare service the best place to work in England in order to improve the quality of care and health outcomes across all major health conditions.

A key part of the plan is to overcome issues around absenteeism, which is 23% higher than any other industry in the UK, by addressing the various individual factors that contribute to such high levels. 

We conducted some research using the responses from the Great Place to Work survey to look at the factors contributing to such high levels of absenteeism. We found that staff wellbeing and absenteeism are inextricably linked, with increased staff wellbeing ultimately leading to reduced absenteeism. With less staff taking sick leave, due to improved wellbeing, less is spent on agency replacements and patients then benefit from a stronger consistency of care. 

What’s clear to see is that absenteeism feeds directly into some of the most critical issues faced by trusts. To reduce levels of absenteeism trusts should look to implement programmes that have a proven track record of improving staff wellbeing.

Wellbeing and Absenteeism

Improved wellbeing leads to reduced absenteeism

Wellbeing and Agency Spend

Improved wellbeing and reduced absenteeism reduces overall agency spend

Data taken from Great Place to Work Survey from 200 NHS Trusts

Financial stress and absenteeism

Almost a third of sickness absence by clinical staff in the NHS is attributed to ‘stress/anxiety/depression/other psychiatric illness’. What’s not captured here is the impact that financial issues can have on staff mental health. By using such an overarching categorisation for absenteeism issues related to mental health, trusts aren’t able to pick up on the percentage of people missing work due to financial issues that impact mental health.

We know that financial stress can play a huge part in this with 48% of people saying it causes them the most stress in their lives. Wagestream proposes that Trusts can look to significantly reduce absenteeism in this area by implementing a financial wellness programme that offers practical and impactful financial solutions for staff. What’s more, trusts can look to significantly reduce the level of sickness absence caused by ‘stress/anxiety/depression/other psychiatric illness’ by better understanding and categorisation of the factors that can lead to compromised mental. 

Financial stress is a factor that is lying unreported and unaddressed in relation to absenteeism and is costing the NHS more than just money, with absenteeism contributing to so many wider issues throughout the orrganisation.

How to create an effective financial wellbeing strategy 

Must be available to 100% of staff

As we are all well aware, NHS staff are amongst the most prolific users of payday loans in the UK. By offering a universally inclusive solution that doesn’t require approval or expensive buy-ins, you can help staff avoid turning to expense short term lenders. 

Must be available and accessible every day of the month 

We know that payday lenders target the most vulnerable in the final days of the month, the period that can be the toughest financially. With already reported high usage, an effective financial wellbeing program for the NHS must be available to everyone, every day of the month to stop them from turning to irresponsible lenders.  

Must include independent financial education

Empowering employees to make the right decisions when it comes to their money can only be done through effective, independent financial education. 

Doesn’t increase employee debt in any form 

Encouraging debt shouldn’t be a part of a financial wellbeing strategy that is genuinely committed to improving staff wellbeing. Loaning money won’t change behaviours or reduce financial stress. 

Must promote good saving habits

How we feel about our money depends on the choices we make every day. Encouraging staff to make the right decisions and build good savings habits early on is the best way to help them feel better about their money, reduce workplace stress and get on well at work. 

Financial wellbeing with Wagestream

The Wagestream app and Trust Portal

There’s a reason why 78% of Wagestream users have said they have seen an increase in their overall wellbeing through access to our impactful financial tools. 

Wagestream provides your staff with instant access to their wages as they’re earned and the ability to track shifts and earnings in real-time. This means that they can have visibility over their finances and access what they earn, as they earn it, to avoid short-term, high-cost credit that ultimately increase stress. 

It also means that they don’t have to wait to access any wages they earn doing extra shifts. This has already seen a 22% increase in hours worked for other organisations, ultimately helping you to reduce agency spend. With increased wellbeing comes more Trust loyalty, as Wagestream has proven to reduce attrition by up to 16%. 

What’s more, our savings product encourages staff to save at every opportunity, through contributions every time they complete a shift, access their wages or receive their salary. This is helping to change habits and ensure that every working person has financial security. 

Through independent, unbiased financial education, your staff can get the information they need to make the right decisions with their money. 

To find out more about how financial wellbeing with Wagestream can help your trust, get in touch.