Financial stress saps worker productivity
LivingRight®: Health & Wellness Awareness Program
Tailored solutions can help workers address issues
Thoughts of bills, bank accounts, and retirement savings may be sapping worker productivity more often than you think.
The 2017 Workplace Benefits Report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that 56 percent of employees experience financial stress, and 53 percent say it impairs their focus and makes it more difficult to be productive.
A separate survey from PwC found financial problems to be a workplace distraction. Their 2017 Employee Financial Wellness survey found that nearly a third of workers think about personal financial issues when they’re on the job, and financial strain leads to productivity issues.
Half of those with financial anxiety spend three hours or more dealing with financial matters during work time, the PwC survey results showed, and 16 percent miss work because of personal financial issues.
“It’s a hot topic,” said Gerry Hollis, vice president of sales and strategy for Edukate, a workplace financial solutions provider based in Orlando, Florida. “We’re seeing the crescendo of information and data that has now been gathered broadly in terms of how Americans are being impacted financially.
“You can’t not pay attention anymore.”
More employers are indeed taking heed of the numbers and are expanding their financial wellness offerings. The number of companies with financial security programs increased to 84 percent in 2017, up from 76 percent the previous year, according to the eighth annual survey on Health and Well-Being from Fidelity Investment and the National Business Group on Health.
There’s no single financial solution to every employee’s concerns, however. When deciding which financial wellness resources to provide to employees, it’s important to remember that worker needs vary and evolve over time.
Some workers may be focused on paying off college loans, while another group is concerned about having enough money saved for retirement. Other workers might be looking to create or boost their emergency fund.
To help decide where to focus your financial wellness efforts, Hollis suggests conducting a workplace assessment which can focus on how workers feel about a particular financial topic. Tools can then be tailored to address concerns.
“We can aggregate that data and look at population segments, and see that Millennials felt very positive about income but maybe they felt concerned or scared about debt,” Hollis said. “Now we know that our young population has a problem with debt, and I might offer a debt management solution or credit consolidation.
“If employers observe that half of employees are not saving outside of the retirement plan, they could offer additional savings features to help them establish an emergency fund.”
Technology provides employers with an opportunity to deliver a solution that’s scalable to employee needs, Hollis notes.
“It’s different than having an advisor who comes in once a quarter to a meeting, which is usually only for an hour and is primarily oriented on the retirement plan or one area of focus,” he said, noting that a technologically-based solution allows guidance and education to be provided on the employee’s schedule.
He adds that many employees prefer to access financial information on their own terms, and digital solutions allow an employer to provide a customized approach.
“The older employee may have a different financial situation than the young employee,” he notes. “In that way, the employer is serving their whole audience, not just one constituency’s problem.
“It hasn’t been until recently that there were effective solutions that could broadly address this,” he notes. “HR has been aware of this problem for a long time but they didn’t have a tool where they could do something effectively before.
“Technology now allows us to deliver the same professional skilled approach that a credit union vice president used to deliver, but now to a large audience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It will connect employees with the information and the solutions that will help them manage their financial challenges.”
For help on educating your employees on healthier lifestyles and habits, which can help your company control insurance costs and employee attrition,
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