Gillian Guy: Debt is a key concern for employees

In recent years, we have seen increasingly more people from all walks of life in crisis because of their debt and financial problems.

Gilian Guy

Debt problems can play havoc with an employee’s performance at work, their relationships, and their physical and mental health.   

Our research shows that at least half of people with debt problems said it affected their performance at work . Of these, 54% found it difficult to concentrate when at work, and 36% found it difficult to complete their jobs to the standard required.  

Three in four of those with debt problems have said their financial concerns are also having a damaging impact on their personal and family relationships, and their physical and mental wellbeing.

Employees in debt often find themselves struggling to pay essential bills, such as energy, rent, mortgage payments and childcare. In some cases, they have bailiffs chasing them for debt repayments. Half of the people who come to us with bailiff problems are in work.   

Households often face pinch-points where their income doesn’t match their expenditure. This has been particularly common for employees during the recession as they have struggled with the rising cost of living.

In 2013, 1.5 million people sought online help from us about their debt problems and how to budget. In December 2013 alone, we saw a 39% year-on-year increase in people seeking advice online about their debt problems.

Employees often feel it is easier to ignore their debts, hoping that the problem will go away. But the reality is that the problem just gets worse and, as their debts increase, so too does the pressure under which they find themselves.

There are a few simple steps staff can take to tackle their debts and return to financial security, but getting advice should be their first port of call.

Gillian Guy is chief executive of Citizens Advice