Spotting the signs of financial stress in your colleagues

As a manager, or leader, you are responsible for your team and ensuring that they have a positive working life. Stress can be a massive hindrance to this and financial stress is a silent struggle that taboo keeps hidden away. Nicola Boyd, operations manager at Creditfix, explains how to spot the signs that a colleague may be suffering from financial stress and what you can do to help

Nicola Boyd, operations manager, Creditfix
Working in education is a rewarding job, filled with variety and benefits but, even so, stress can take its toll. Delivering an excellent education – most likely on a strict budget – results in schools trying to achieve a great deal with few resources, which adds pressure to teachers and support staff alike.
Workloads can quickly increase, results may not be achieved and stress can kick in. A school’s support staff are paramount to ensuring the school operates efficiently so, if support staff in a school aren’t performing to the best of their ability due to stress, this can have a knock-on effect on the school, its pupils and their education.

Pinpointing the source of stress

Often, workplace stress can stem from issues at home – for example, personal finances. Once you find yourself struggling with your finances it’s hard to tear your mind away from thoughts of where your money is going to come from and this, inevitably, follows you in to work.
It’s not always easy to spot when someone is struggling with their finances, even if you spend every day with them. Being aware of the signs that someone may be in financial difficulty means that you can help – offering advice and support.

Things to look out for include:

Making excuses not to spend

It’s not uncommon for people to avoid spending money – many people try to save and avoid unnecessary spending – but there are other warning signs; for example, avoiding a contribution to a school charity fundraiser or not attending staff socials. Perhaps they have stopped spending at lunch times or aren’t eating at all. Sometimes a colleague’s reasoning and excuses might not add up and this can all indicate a shortage of money.

Not ‘being themselves’

Stress can manifest itself in people in different ways and with some it can change the way that they act on a daily basis. Such a burden can be hard to keep quiet and may sometimes manifest itself in someone’s personality; they may become distant, short-tempered and snappy. Even the strongest-minded people can struggle when something as important as finances aren’t as secure as they should be.

Worn down and tired

We all have tough weeks – and sometimes even months – but you may notice someone who was always on time, alert and on the ball, all of a sudden turning up late, looking tired, worn out and generally stressed. This is an obvious indicator that something isn’t right, especially if it persists.
These signs are by no means a categorical indicator that someone is struggling with money but they are all signs of severe stress, which is often brought on by problems that are out of our control and, when finances begin to slip, they usually slip out of our control. As a colleague, and someone in a management role, you can offer advice if you see someone struggling and try to get to the root of the problem and direct them to help.
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