Addressing Financial Stress in the Workplace

A recent report by the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) showed that 25 percent of employees say that financial concerns affect their ability to do their jobs. There is a direct correlation between employees’ financial worries and their productivity at work.
Financial Wellbeing in the Workplace 
With federal student loan debt in the trillions, the cost of living at a steady increase, and the increase in additional living expenses, it’s easy to see why there are financial wellbeing issues seeping into the workplace. Over the last few years, there has been a conscientious effort by employers to provide financial wellness programs but there is a still a long way to go to create programs that benefit, educate and support the financial security of their employees.
Stressed Employees are Working Less
“Financial stressors are not only negatively impacting employees, but are costing employers,” says PwC’s Partner and National Practice Leader, Kent E. Allison. Stressed employees are found to be less productive, take time off from work to deal with their finances, and are more likely to cite health issues caused by financial stress. These findings are concerning and potentially significant for companies looking to evaluate the return on investment of a financial wellness program.”
Illness on the Rise in the Workplace
Financial stresses have been linked to cardiovascular disease, migraines, insomnia and more, which could all lead to absence from work. Financial stress can also have a negative effect on mental health, causing depression and other mood disorders.
Employers Providing Financial Wellness Programs 
Even with many employers providing financial wellness programs, the engagement hasn’t been high. This is mostly due to most programs focusing mainly on savings for retirement, which is vital, but does nothing for the immediate concerns of workers, such as managing debt, creating savings, tax and insurance.
One dilemma facing employers is the different needs of each worker. An older or part-time worker isn’t going to benefit from the same information as a millennial would. Employers are aware of this, and striking a balance for all groups to help address their financial concerns can only help promote a more engaged and productive workplace. The better the workplace, the better an employee can focus and produce to their full potential.
Other options companies are incorporating to recognize the diversity of needs in the workforce are launching student-loan repayment benefits, and offering workplace individual savings and investment accounts. Many companies are even helping their employees learn to better manage their debt with discounted seminars and educational platforms. Offerings like these may maximize the impact of existing benefits budgets.
As awareness continues to grow, more holistic financial planning offerings from employers are expected. There will still be a greater deal of emphasis on retirement funding, but the days of ignoring the overall financial wellbeing of employees are slowly coming to an end.