In recent years, many companies have taken a new look at workplace satisfaction. Research has led to changes in everything from office layout to snack options.
Companies are quick to acknowledge that a happy employee is a more productive employee. Employers such as Google and Microsoft cater to employee stress relief by providing benefits such as health wellness programs and fitness classes.1
One large source of stress is often overlooked, though. Financial concern is cited as the most prevalent source of stress for Americans.2 Employers could benefit from finding ways to reduce the financial stress of their employees.
Stress has a Negative Impact on Job Performance
Employee stress has proven to have a negative impact on a company.3 Health, productivity, happiness, and engagement are all impacted by stress. This can be physical stress, mental stress, or financial stress.
Physical stress may be an uncomfortable work environment like poor lighting or a cramped office.
Mental stress can be caused by interpersonal issues or poor communication.
Financial stress – more than either of the other two – is likely present in all aspects of an employee’s life, not just his or her work hours.
The effects of stress on the job are numerous and include:
Increased work absences
More staff turnover
Poor work quality
Suffering peer relationships3
Recent Tactics to Reduce Worker Stress
Over the last decade or so, many major companies have adopted the view that reducing stress can improve productivity.3 Companies like Google and Microsoft have changed the way offices look and feel.
Google offers its employees fitness centers and massage therapists. Their cafeterias have nutritious food options and they provide onsite healthcare services and community bikes.
Microsoft has a running track and free Zumba classes on campus, along with basketball and volleyball courts. They offer free family counseling and health screening.1
Mutual of Omaha is now offering employee financial wellness to its EAP clients. Interactive financial education platforms are another way to combat stress in the workplace, as some programs have reported a 23% reduction in stress.
These industry leaders understand the impact stress has on their workers. They have taken steps to address the sources of stress and have benefited as a result.
Financial Stress and its Effect on Work Performance
While companies have been working to improve employees' physical and mental health, often overlooked in these efforts is financial health.
The American Psychological Association deemed financial concerns the single biggest cause of stress for Americans.2
Concerns vary from generation to generation. Young workers now carry more student loan debt than ever before. Middle-aged workers find it hard to build a nest egg while juggling children and careers. And the older generation is preparing for retirement.4
Carrying the stress of these things into work can cause a reduction in productivity and job performance.4
Those with high levels of financial stress are:
Less satisfied with their pay
More likely to waste work time
More frequently absent from work5
More often than not, an employee concerned about their financial life is not performing as well as they could be.
37% of employees said they spend three or more hours at work each week thinking about their personal finance issues.6
22% of Human Resource professionals say financial stress has a “large impact” on employee engagement.7
Individual financial stress hurts not just the worker but the company as well.
Benefits of Employee Financial Wellness Programs
While not all companies can afford running tracks and Zumba classes, more reasonable steps are available to reduce employee stress. Addressing financial stress can be just as effective or even more so.
40% of workers say they want help in achieving financial security
57% of employers believe financial education boosts productivity7
Employees who gain financial literacy are more likely to be supportive of their company
80% of employees say they would like workplace financial counseling9
Financial wellness programs offered by employers have proven to reduce stress and increase productivity.4
In one study, employers reported improvements across the board, including job satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty. It also showed that participation in an employee financial wellness program made 29% of respondents feel better about being an employee.4
Developing a Financial Wellness Program to Improve Worker Productivity
In 2017, the Center for Social Development issued five recommendations for the successful implementation of an employer-sponsored financial wellness program:
1. A company’s intention should be to support its employees.
2. Services should cater to the needs of the employees.
3. Services should be easy to access.
4. The financial program should be promoted within the company.
5. Feedback should be used for continued improvements.
6. The financial education program should be integrated into the company’s standard operation.4
Addressing stress in the workplace is a growing focus of companies across the country. Reducing not just physical and mental stress, but financial stress as well, improves productivity and worker satisfaction.
While employee perks like nap rooms, running tracks, and massage therapists are headline-grabbing, many studies are beginning to show that financial stress may be the most costly issue to companies.10 Financial wellness programs can be used as one means to help. Options like online education and financial tools have been especially popular with workers.4
1 - https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/companies-good-wellness-programs
2 - https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf
3 - https://www.business.com/articles/stress-and-productivity-what-the-numbers-say/
4 - https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1594&context=csd_research
5 - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886368703261215
6 - https://www.pwc.com/us/en/private-company-services/publications/assets/pwc-employee-financial-wellness-survey-2015.pdf
7 - https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201408_cfpb_report_financial-wellness-at-work.pdf
8 - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-6606.2005.00008.x
9 - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.2161-1920.2000.tb01022.x
10 - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886368714566150;