By Michelle Clark
U.S. workers are stressed about finances. It’s a deepening trend and there’s no single cause for the pressure.
- It affects every generation – 53 percent of all workers1, in fact, from Millennials through Baby Boomers.
- It’s an equal opportunity burden – 14 percent of those with the lowest degree of financial wellness have household incomes surpassing $100,000.2
- It’s more pressing than you might think – nearly half of all adults say they could not pay for a $400 emergency expense without borrowing or selling something.
And, yes, their stress is also yours, as it affects their job performance. As much as 16 percent of employees spend 20 or more working hours each month worrying about their finances. On average, people spend 13 hours distracted by their money issues3. It costs you, their employer - in terms of more absences and far lower levels of employee engagement.
And, perhaps more distressing is the growing link between financial pressure and physical health. It’s reported that 42 percent of employees are both physically unhealthy and financially worried4. The manifestations of that combination are creating a vicious, compounding cycle of negative impact across a broad swath of your business.
On the employee side, it shows itself in such coping mechanisms as food choices and self-medication with drugs and/or alcohol. The resulting sleeping issues can contribute to on-the-job fatigue. Employees may find their memory and ability to concentrate are affected, causing distractions from the tasks at hand. Unhealthy weight swings up or down are common, and so is high blood pressure.
In turn, employers may see greater numbers of payday advance requests. More incidents of workplace accidents and theft may be occurring. Absenteeism or extreme tardiness can escalate. And, it’s not uncommon for workers feeling financial pressure to abuse overtime to bring in more money, which exacerbates their physical and mental health issues. The result is a rise in medical claims that reflect these issues, as prescriptions increase for medications like muscle relaxants or opioids, anti-depressants or sleeping pills – all of which ultimately affect an organization’s need to manage benefit costs
There’s a lot on the line when employees are under financial pressure. The strong link between their wellbeing and the organization’s makes your financial health initiatives some of the best investments you can make.
Generally, employers can show their concern and support in various ways, starting with regular communications around the connections between employees’ financial health and overall wellbeing and employee benefits. Providing access to financial tools and resources, as well as, voluntary benefits such as student loan refinancing options, credit and debt management services and non-retirement savings vehicles are just a few of the immediate next steps for an organization to take for improving employees’ financial health.
HUB International’s team is ready to help you assess, access and put in place programs and services to help address the financial health of your workforce.