From give-away cabinets to training courses on making financial problems a subject of discussion. Since last year, hospitals have paid extra attention to the financial health of staff. This is evident from a tour of the NOS along all hospitals in the Netherlands.
Hospitals often do not have a good idea of how many staff have financial concerns. But more expensive groceries and higher energy prices are enough reason for hospitals to pay extra attention to this.
Of the 34 hospitals that responded, 26 indicated that they had paid more attention to the financial health of their staff in the past year. For example, the Amphia hospital in Breda started last year with financial consultation hours, which are still offered due to “the great demand”. “Given what is currently going on in society, it is logical that you take a critical look at what you can add to help people,” says an Amphia spokesperson.
The Ikazia Hospital in Rotterdam has had a give-away cabinet for five months, which is being put to good use. For example, colleagues can put pasta sauce, sanitary towels and long-life milk for colleagues who are short on cash. “The cupboard is sheltered and you can take what you need with you,” said a spokesperson.
The approach differs per hospital. While one hospital has included money concerns in the vitality program and offers financial consultation hours, the other only places a message about financial health on the personnel page.
Some other hospitals say they see no reason for additional measures. Such as the Groene Hart Hospital in Gouda. “We also do not receive any indications from the staff who are currently explicitly asking for this,” says a spokesperson.
It is difficult to say how many staff are struggling with financial concerns. Seventeen hospitals say they are getting signals that financial concerns have increased. Eight hospitals say they do not see an increase.
According to a spokesperson for the Tjongerschans hospital in Heerenveen, employees with lower wages in particular struggle to make ends meet. The Elisabeth-Tweesteden Hospital in Brabant thinks that employees in the cleaning and facility services are the first to run into problems and not necessarily nursing staff.
Even doctors and physiotherapists
Yet, according to Paul Titulaer of aid organization Humanitas, it is no longer just people on social assistance benefits or the lowest incomes who have financial concerns. “People with higher incomes also have higher expenses, more expensive houses and more expensive cars. They are often not financially literate at all. People think that highly educated people are also financially literate. But even doctors can get into financial problems.”
Annemieke Bruining of PGGM&CO, a provider of vitality programs in healthcare, also sees a new group with money worries. “In the past, before the entire inflation crisis, aid was mainly aimed at low incomes, but that is no longer the case. There are also concerns among higher incomes, for example, we also receive requests for budget coaching from someone who is a physiotherapist.”
However, it is difficult for employers to get a precise picture of the money problems of their own staff. A spokesperson for Bernhoven Hospital in Uden says that managers are receiving signals about money worries. “But the subject is taboo.”
Titulaer supports employees of the Viecuri Medical Center in Venlo and also sees that people often find it difficult to ask for help. “It was originally intended to help patients who come home from hospital with their finances. But the hospital ended up being more concerned about its own staff,” he says.
However, little use has been made of this so far; there were four registrations out of a workforce of 3400 people. “I fear that people report too late, so that the problems are too great.”
Bruining also recognizes this. “You can imagine that if you have money worries, shame is involved. It is a huge barrier to ask for and accept help.”
According to Hilma Bosma, who provides training on financial health, the fact that hospitals are paying more attention to financial health is not only due to the high inflation. “More and more attention is being paid to this in the context of being a good employer and retaining staff. People are already hopping to another job for a wage increase of four euros, so you have to do something else.”
“You see that there is a high rate of absenteeism in the healthcare sector, which you want to solve as an employer,” adds Bruining. And attention to finances is also part of this, according to her, because if someone has financial concerns, this also has an effect on mental and physical health.
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