Employees with financial stress can cost you money, but don’t worry, there are ways to get productivity back in the workplace.
According to the Australian Psychological Society, 35% of Australians have a significant level of distress in their lives, 26% have above-normal levels of anxiety and 26% have moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
The main cause? Personal finances.
This trend is particularly worrying considering the potential impact financial wellness can have on the workplace. Financial stress can affect people’s psychological health, morale and ability to fulfil their day-to-day responsibilities.
So, what triggers financial stress and what can be done to help employees maximise their financial wellness and be more productive?
Understand financial stress
To better understand the phenomenon, we conducted some financial wellness research. In June 2016, we interviewed 2,105 workers, aged 18 and over, to assess their financial state and explore common triggers of financial stress. This resulted in our report, Financial wellness in the Australian workplace.
Our research found that 24% of employed Australians are financially stressed, costing their employers an estimated $47.2 billion a year in lost revenue through absenteeism and being distracted at work.
The survey identified five key triggers:
- the level of debt
- the burden of a mortgage
- the level of retirement preparedness
- the responsibility of supporting a family
- the inability to pay bills when they arrive.
Not being able to make a desired purchase or to spontaneously go on holiday was also identified as a stressor, as it exacerbates the feeling that one’s finances inhibit more than they empower.
Maximise financial wellness
Overall, our research found a clear link between the ability to set long-term goals and financial wellness. More than half of financially secure employees systematically set and monitor financial goals, whereas only one-third of financial stressed employees do so.
Retirement was found to be a key concern, but financially stressed employees stood out as being less likely to calculate how much they would need and how they could start saving for it.
Learning to set clear, achievable goals seems to be the best way to eliminate the triggers of financial stress, or at least to mitigate the impact they may have on people’s day-to-day lives.
Using planning tools is a great first step, but some cases may require more thorough and tailor-made guidance.
Here is how we can empower you to help your employees to build financial wellness:
Improve financial literacy
This is about basic money management, including budgeting, saving, investing and insurance. You can help build your employees’ financial confidence with education modules that are delivered through dedicated workplace education seminars.
Take steps to help them simplify their finances
Our Financial Wellness research showed that only a third of financially stressed employees feel confident about managing their budget. Some of them may not know where their money goes, are overwhelmed by debt or have little cash set aside for emergencies. Help them start to take control of their finances.
Educate them about superannuation
There are ways your employees can find out why it’s important to understand how their super is invested and the pros and cons of holding insurance in super. And being able to understand the tax and savings advantages can help them make better choices for their retirement goals.
Help them plan for retirement
Our research also found that only one-third of Australian workers are confident about retiring comfortably. Help your employees set goals around retirement to reduce the impact of financial stress. Ask them to check out the ASFA Retirement Standard so they can start thinking about how they can achieve their desired lifestyle goals in retirement.
Provide ways they can identify and keep track of their goals
Financially stressed employees are less likely to set themselves financial goals and only a third of them keep track, according to our research. Help them take the first step to identify, explore and prioritise their goals with our handy online goals tool. They can then keep track using the secure online service My AMP.
Connect employees with professional help
Asking friends and relatives for advice is great, but what works for one person may not work for someone else. We can help connect your employees with a financial adviser to help them identify their goals and guide them in managing life changing events.
Get in touch
It appears from our research that financial goal setting could also be an important factor in financial stress ‘prevention’ (ie not just reducing stress); financially secure employees are significantly more likely to have clearly defined goals relative to their financially stressed counterparts.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help your employees explore their goals.