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Would You be Able to Tell if an Employee Has Debt Problems?

Given that the average amount of personal debt in the UK is about £30,000 – and this is an average, which means some people may have twice this or more – many people are struggling. Lots of people are finding it hard to keep up with repayments, especially when their wages aren’t rising in line with inflation.

Even people in work are finding it tough to stay afloat so when the boiler breaks down or someone loses their glasses, the scales tip from just about managing to going under. If you employ people, you do have a definite duty of care to monitor them for signs of financial trouble and to offer help with debt management.

These are common signs of financial issues.

Keeping the problem secret

It’s a strange example at first sight – how do you know about a problem if someone’s doing their best to hide it? People never really manage to hide a big issue, though and there’ll be a feeling of “something going on” with them. Finally, something will happen to bring the situation to light, whether it’s a call at work from a creditor or their cards being declined during an impromptu office lunch out.

Unexplained tiredness at work

People find it hard to sleep properly when they’re worrying about debt and this leads to constant tiredness and stress. When someone’s sleep-deprived, they’ll be excessively tired, as well as unusually irritable; they may also perform poorly at work. This scenario is far from ideal for everyone involved, but it’s especially unpleasant for the person in debt.

Strange eating habits

It’s well-known how stress affects the appetite. Someone under stress might eat too much carb-laden foods, or might stop eating much at all. If an employee suddenly stops eating as usual and there’s no obvious reason, debt could be the answer.

Sudden, unexplained anxiety

Being pursued by creditors is no fun and it can make someone feel constantly on alert, almost like a fugitive. The person might examine their phone when it rings before deciding to answer, or let an unusual number of calls go to voicemail. They may jump if reception says there’s a call for them, or be particularly nervy when the mail is delivered to desks.

Out-of-character anger

When someone’s in debt they feel hopeless and trapped, which often turns into anger and frustration. The person can take this anger out on their colleagues, the government and you, as well as their families and even inanimate office equipment. If these temper outbursts are unusual then there’s some source of stress and if there’s nothing obvious causing it, debt may be behind it.

Uncharacteristic depression

Long periods of stress with no sign of let-up can cause mental health issues, mainly depression and anxiety. In most cases, the depression will start to lift when the problem is addressed. Occasionally the low feeling might linger for a while, so it’s vital that the person gets practical and emotional help as soon as possible.