Pay cuts having severe impact on households’ mental wellbeing, survey finds

Nearly four in five people who have had a pay cut in their household say it has affected their own mental wellbeing, a survey has found.

Six in 10 (61%) full and part-time employees surveyed at the end of April said that a member of their household, which could be themselves or someone else, had endured a salary reduction.

Almost four-fifths (79%) of these people said that having a salary reduction in their household had affected their own mental wellbeing, the research from consultancy firm Barnett Waddingham found.

Of those who have seen a fall in their household income, 40% have had increased anxiety and 39% had experienced increased stress.

Nearly three in 10 (28%) have had sleepless nights, and nearly a quarter (23%) said the reduction is their biggest current concern.

Almost one in eight (12%) have seen their relationships deteriorating.

Women were more likely than men to say they felt higher stress levels, more anxiety, suffered more sleepless nights and suffered more headaches or migraines.

People with disabilities were also particularly likely to say they had suffered mood swings or seen relationships deteriorate, the research found.

Those whose parents have seen a hit in income are the most affected group, with 85% reporting an impact on their wellbeing.

The research also indicated that people felt more stressed by someone else in their household losing some of their income than losing money themselves.

Peter Meyler, associate and head of workplace consultancy at Barnett Waddingham, said: “There is a tendency among employers to try and split and respond to physical, mental, and financial health separately.

“The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced that this ignores the reality. Financial health has a direct and tangible impact on people’s mental wellbeing. The global pandemic has, of course, hit mental health hard, but so too will the economic consequences of the crisis from entering a deep recession.”

He added: “Employers need to be careful not to view their actions in a vacuum.

“For those making decisions around pay and potential redundancies, now is the time to consider the impact on your employees’ wellbeing as paramount.

“Communication and engagement are key, and it’s a two-way street. Listen to the concerns and requirements of your workforce, and carefully consider any ideas that they may have for alternative solutions to avoid job losses.

“Do your best to communicate outcomes and decisions with openness, clarity and empathy.”

More than 2,000 people were surveyed and the research included some people who had been furloughed but not those who had been made redundant.

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