More than half of New Zealand workers believe the increase in the cost of living is having a negative impact on their mental health, new research shows.
The quarterly Employee Sentiment Index from cloud-based HR company Elmo, which surveyed more than 500 Kiwis, gave insight into the toll financial stress and job insecurity was taking on employees.
The research found that 57 per cent of New Zealanders’ mental health was negatively impacted by cost of living pressures.
Women were significantly more likely to report a negative impact (66 per cent) compared to men (49 per cent).
Forty-six per cent of respondents said that financial stress was affecting their physical health, while 34 per cent felt it was impacting their productivity at work.
“It is clear that increasing financial and job insecurity is exacting a significant toll on the wellbeing of employees,” said Elmo Software chief executive and co-founder Danny Lessem.
“These findings should serve as a wake-up call that to avert a burnout crisis, companies need to take proactive steps to support their employees, whether that is through financial education, mental health support or flexible working arrangements.”
Lessem said it was also concerning to see the disproportionate impact on women.
“Historically, we know women are more likely to be underemployed and feel they’re not working enough hours - and that’s something that came through in our results.
“Almost a quarter of women (23 per cent) believe they aren’t working enough hours, compared to just 13 per cent of men.”
Financial stress is hitting younger workers harder, however, with 85 per cent of Gen Zs, and 76 per cent of Millennials, likely to have made a change to their lifestyles to offset the cost of living increases compared to 38 per cent of Baby Boomers, according to the research.
Those include anything from cancelling subscriptions to streaming services (30 per cent) to cancelling or removing a credit card from their phone (11 per cent).
Overall, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said they had made some kind of change in response to increasing costs.
Job security fears are also weighing on workers, with 21 per cent anticipating there will be redundancies at their company in the next three months.
The same number are concerned that their role will be the one to be axed.
As a result, 54 per cent of respondents said they had taken on extra responsibilities that are not part of their job, while 27 per cent are working harder or longer hours to keep their jobs safe.
Lessem said of those employees feeling overwhelmed, it was important to take a step back and look at what they can control.
“It’s understandable for employees to feel overwhelmed at the moment. What’s happening in the economy is out of their hands and that ongoing uncertainty can become exhausting.
“Firstly, be clear on what a healthy work-life balance looks like for you and the boundaries you’re able to set. Whether that’s your typical working hours or having a clear separation between work and home, pinpoint what you need to do to switch off.
“Most importantly, talk to others. If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, either by your work or what’s happening outside of it, reach out for support and find out what resources are available.
“Whether that is through your manager, your company’s HR team or someone else you trust, there may be tools at your disposal you didn’t know about.”