‘Age of Ambiguity’ reveals cost of living impact on young workers

Cost of living causing financial avoidance in younger workers

According to new findings from Aviva’s ‘Age of Ambiguity’ study, over half (54%) of UK employees feel anxious when dealing with their finances, even without the added economic and political uncertainty and pressure that has emerged in recent days and weeks.

The latest research, undertaken in June 2022, suggests that feelings of anxiety are leading people, especially younger generations, to avoid looking at their finances at all, with 60% of Generation Z and millennials (aged 18-41) adopting this approach because they feel “they are often out of my control”.

The findings come from Mastering the Age of Ambiguity, the fourth edition of Aviva’s series of  ‘Age of Ambiguity’ studies, which has been tracking employees’ changing experiences of the modern workplace since early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The impact of change

Amidst the heightened turmoil impacting households and businesses across the UK, Aviva’s study explores how employees feel about the impact of change and uncertainty in areas including their careers, finances, and general wellbeing.

It shows how financial avoidance is playing out against a backdrop of persistent, general anxiety for many working people, with one in four (27%) employees in the UK’s largest businesses (with 1,000+ staff) feeling very anxious daily. This figure is higher than during the second half of 2020, when 22% of people felt the same.

The findings also show significant generational differences in how people feel about their finances and their experience of financial anxiety.

However, with predictions that the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis will affect younger generations disproportionately in the coming years, many parents and grandparents – who may recall the double-digit inflation of the 1980s – now worry about their younger family members as well as themselves. Nearly half (49%) of working parents say their top concern is their children’s financial future.

Bank of mum and dad

As a result, the Bank of Mum and Dad and the Bank of Grandma and Grandad have become powerful financial resources for younger people. Wider research from Aviva earlier this year found one in four (25%) grandparents have helped, or are going to help, grandchildren buy their first home by giving £31,399 on average.

The findings highlight the importance of the workplace as an arena for sharing financial advice and guidance to help different age groups navigate money matters.

Commenting on the report, Emma Douglas, Aviva’s Director of Workplace Savings & Retirement, said: “Understandable though it may be for us all to be looking for ways to avoid facing harsh financial realities right now, ignoring our financial situation altogether isn’t going to help. We need to encourage people to realise that engaging with our finances will provide vital insight that can help alleviate problems occurring in the future.

Lacking financial resilience

“It is a difficult time for many, with some demographics feeling the cost-of-living crisis more acutely than others. Our research has shown that younger workers are most likely to avoid engaging with their finances due to anxiety and a lack of financial resilience. However, despite it being a daunting prospect, engaging now is the best course of action.

“As most people’s primary source of income, the workplace is a key environment to support an employee’s financial journey, and employers can often be looked to as a trusted source of guidance on financial matters. At the same time, it’s abundantly clear that businesses and individuals are under considerable pressure in the current climate.

“It’s vital we find ways to share learnings and collaborate across the business community to make tools and support more widely available to UK employees, so that – wherever possible – companies can offer or signpost people towards financial education seminars and online tools; encourage regular financial check-ins; promote useful resources via existing employee benefits and assistance programmes; or even offer access to financial and debt advice, to help employees to navigate their current financial pressures.”

Rate This: