When it comes to stress, it’s likely no surprise that financial concerns are often at the top of the list of culprits. In the U.S., concerns about money, work, and the economy are consistently the most common sources of anxiety, with 21% of employees reporting “high” or “overwhelming” levels of stress about finances. All that stress is problematic for workplaces, too; it impacts employees’ productivity, confidence, and sense of well being at work. Luckily, effective solutions are not out of reach.
It’s well known that stress is linked to health concerns like muscle tension, migraines, weight gain, anxiety, sleep issues, and depression. Those reporting high levels of financial stress are also more likely to smoke, or to abuse drugs and/or alcohol. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re also twice as likely to have a heart attack. Clearly, stress is a phenomenon that no workplace can afford to ignore.
Of those who report high levels of financial stress, 29% say that it’s a source of distraction at work, which may explain higher incidences of workplace accidents from stress-sufferers. It’s also a common cause for absenteeism, low-productivity, higher turnover, higher health care-related expenses for the employer, and low morale. More than just a personal struggle, stress affects every aspect of your team’s life – at home and at the office. These concerns are also, interestingly, most prevalent in employees between the ages of 35 and 44 (40% of workers), and amongst those earning over $100,000 per year. In other words, financial stress is not just an issue for those approaching retirement, or those earning lower wages – it affects us all.
There is a direct relationship between financial stress and the ability to manage one’s finances, so one of the best things that companies can do to support their staff is to provide resources and tools to help them better manage their finances. Using confidential assessments, companies can determine the issues that most concern their employees. This will allow them to offer targeted programming and guidance to best suit their team’s needs. Possible resources could include:
• Financial education for staff
• Guidance in financial planning
• Stress management tools and workshops (specifically addressing financial concerns)
• Financial wellness initiatives
A Little Programming Can Go a Long Way…
According to a recent Metlife study, employees who attended a financial-training program felt more in-control of their financial situation. That sense of empowerment goes a long way toward a more engaged, more productive workplace. Not only are employees happier and healthier when they feel in control of their finances, they’re also more likely to be focused and engaged at work when personal concerns aren’t weighing heavily on their minds. When individuals feel in control of their finances, they’re also more likely to save for retirement, meaning that the sense of control and empowerment they feel in the present also contributes to greater control and financial certainty in the future.
Employees who feel in control of their finances report feeling less burdened and more capable – both at work and in their personal lives. The result is a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace. Offering financial resources, in other words, is an investment with guaranteed return for everyone involved.