Imagine you have only a few hundred dollars in your savings account and your furnace breaks over the weekend…and it’s freezing outside. You call your local HVAC company, and they say weekend emergency house calls are an extra $150, which doesn’t even go toward the cost to fix the furnace. What do you do?
Well, if you’re like the 40% of Americans who can’t cover a $400 emergency expense, you would probably crank up the space heater and call in sick to work on Monday to save $150 on weekend premium charges.
Unfortunately, financial problems don’t go away during business hours, and plenty of research shows people are stressed about money. According to a survey from the Employee Financial Education Division:
• 61% of employees said money was their top stressor.
• 45% of employees rate their level of financial stress as high to overwhelming.
• 52% indicated concern about money contributed to anger, fatigue and sleeplessness.
Naturally, it’s tough to be engaged at work when you’re can barely afford to pay your bills. One source reports, employees spend an average of 2 hours per week on their personal finances while at work. What’s more, almost 66% of employers acknowledge employees are less productive in the workplace when they are stressed about money.
Not surprisingly, a survey conducted by Lockton Retirement Services reported workers with high financial stress are twice as likely as their financially stable counterparts to use sick time when they are not actually sick. In addition, the same report noted employees stressed over finances are actually ill more often. They were more than four times likelier to suffer from fatigue, headaches, depression or other ailments.
So what can employers do to help keep their employees engaged and productive? How can they retain their most talented and valuable employees who may be ready to job hop for even a slightly higher paycheck?
The answer may lie in companies becoming more invested in the financial wellness of their employees.
Financial wellness programs in the workplace are a growing trend. After recognizing financial issues were causing workers to be unproductive and more likely to switch jobs, more employers have started offering education, tools and resources to help employees improve their financial literacy, gain confidence, and improve their financial situations.
The most popular financial wellness programs are free seminars and “lunch-n-learn” programs onface personal finance topics such as saving, retirement and managing debt. Some employers are offering video games and mobile apps to help employees learn about important financial concepts. More and more, companies are offering employer-sponsored savings plans like us, Cookie Jar Savings, a program in which employees round up the spare change from their purchases and the employer matches it.
According to the 2018 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 25% of respondents say access to unbiased counselors is the most desired financial wellness benefit they don’t have.
Offering financial wellness programs results in employees with lower stress, higher productivity, a decrease in turnover and absenteeism, and an increase in engagement—all of which increase the return on investment for employers.
Beyond the bottom line, helping employees reduce the stress in their lives and become more financially stable may be reason enough on its own. In fact, a 2017 survey said most employers are offering financial wellness programs because it’s simply “the right thing to do.”