Business South HR Event highlights the impact of financial stress on employee’s Mental Health

Dec 5, 2019

The Business South Financial and mental wellbeing event was held on Thursday 28th November at The Harbour Hotel in Guildford and sponsored by Champions, Omnium Employee Benefits. Event partners included Guildford Borough Council and local mental health charity Oakleaf Enterprise.

The event followed up the highly regarded Business South Mental Health in the Workplace conference held in Guildford in June 2019.

The theme attracted over 30 HR Professionals and business leaders from across the region to discuss promoting good mental health in the workplace and in particular the impact of personal financial pressures on employees performance and mental wellbeing.

The event hosted by Andy Swift, Champion Director for Business South and featured expert speakers Clive Stone, CEO at Oakleaf Enterprise and Mark Hodson, Associate Director at Gomshall-based Omnium Employee Benefits.

Clive Stone provided the delegates with an update on the work of Oakleaf Enterprise; the progress of their programme to support the local community and the training that they provide to mental health first aiders in businesses across the region. Delegates were delighted to hear that Oakleaf were worthy winners of the Charity of the Year Award voted on by businesses at the recent Surrey Business Awards.

Mark Hodson provided background on the challenges faced by employers as a result of the growing trends around personal debt in the UK working population and how this may impact on their wellbeing and mental health. He went on to cover how this can be addressed and provided suggestions on three key steps to support employees facing difficulties. In his remarks Mark told the workshop that there is little doubt that UK household debt is on the increase; recent Bank of England figures show that consumer debt, excluding mortgages, now totals almost £220bn – approaching levels not seen since the financial crisis – making the UK one of the most indebted economies among the G7 nations.

Mark added ‘Money and mental health are often linked; poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse.

‘So, what does this mean for the workplace? We know that mental health is the largest cause of long-term sickness absence in the UK, impacting productivity and performance and yet as workplaces we are not equipped to manage this effectively. Research shows that only 25% of line managers have had training in managing mental health.

‘With an awareness of the challenges, and the tips I’ve shared for employers on how to support employees through difficult times, I’m hopeful interventions with staff members facing difficulties can be worthwhile, add to the tactics of employers to retain their workforce and continue the work to build better workforce engagement’.

“Our people conferences and workshops are not the only way to discuss best practice with other HR professionals,” Andy Swift Champion Director said, “All Business South members – known as ‘Champions’ – are given the opportunity to join Workforce South and other action groups to collaborate and to promote business in the South. If you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch.’ Andy added ‘Announcements on the date and venue for our 2020 HR Conference will be made in the New Year.”

Find out more about becoming a Business South Champion and the Workforce South Action Group by visiting