A 2012 report by the American Psychological Association found that money, work, and the economy are the most reported causes of stress, with 73% saying that money was the most significant source. This is not at all surprising, considering how fewer U.S. households today have a personal financial safety net than during the early stages of the economic recovery. In fact, according to a new consumer survey from NeighborWorks America, 70 million working age Americans – roughly one-third – have no emergency savings, while nearly one-in-four don’t have enough saved to cover 30 days of living expenses without going deeper into debt.
With the majority of stress in the United States attributed to personal financial problems, many employers today are starting to recognize and address the importance of a financially healthy employee. As outlined in a study conducted by Purchasing Power, 44% of employees indicate they worry about their personal finances during work hours, while 46% say they spend 2-3 hours per week at work dealing with personal finances on average. Stress over money takes both a mental and physical toll on workers, impacting health-related costs and reducing productivity significantly. This in turn leads to higher instances of absenteeism, presenteeism (physically, but not mentally at work), work conflicts, and overall job dissatisfaction or lack of commitment.
Essentially, what’s crucial to understand here is that personal financial problems undoubtedly spill over into the workplace, creating many negative implications which can impact company profits. According to a 2010 Federal Reserve study, employee financial stress costs employers an average of $5,000 per employee per year in lost productivity.
Fortunately there is a desire to be more fiscally responsible, as employees want to be better managers of their money, but simply lack the tools and education to do so properly. As stated by Eileen M. Fitzgerald, NeighborWorks America CEO, their is an inherent need to “provide better tools and information for people to manage the money they do have in order to build a strong financial base.”
Thus, a growing number of companies have discovered that they can build employees’ loyalty, increase their productivity, and improve job satisfaction by providing programs that help them achieve financial wellness. More recently, a new survey by Aon Hewitt found that employers today are committed to looking for new ways to improve the long-term financial health of their employees. In fact, 76% of companies surveyed are somewhat or very likely to expand their focus on the financial well-being of their employees this year alone. To help their employees take this first step, companies are offering and promoting services to help them manage their debt while also encouraging them to save. This includes providing help in managing budgets, offering tools and resources to improve saving and investing decisions, and simplifying investment options.
From a health standpoint, saving money is one of the easiest, most beneficial behaviors for anyone to adopt who wishes to reduce stress and increase their sense of well-being. Interestingly enough, there is even evidence suggesting a link between the amount of money people have in savings to how happy they feel. As revealed in a 2013 survey by Ally Bank, among those with a savings account, 38 percent reported feeling extremely, or very happy, versus 29 percent of those without a savings account. The survey further concluded that the more you save, the more likely you are to be happy, and that the mere act of saving money alone affects happiness more than how much you earn. A whopping 84% of people surveyed say having money in the bank contributes to their overall sense of well-being – more so than eating healthy foods, having an enjoyable job, or getting regular exercise.
Ultimately, the most effective financial education programs empower employees to take control of their financial well-being, while producing undeniable benefits for both employers and employees alike. For employees, the simple act of saving money, paying off debt, and reaching personal financial goals reduces stress while positively impacting their physical and financial well-being. For employers, the result is productive workers who are engaged and empowered, as well as an increased bottom line.
It all requires just one simple action: saving.
Ally Bank. (November, 2013). New Ally Bank Survey Links Money to Happiness. Retrieved June 13th, 2014, from Ally Bank.
Aon. (January, 2014). Aon Hewitt Survey Fins Employers to Focus on Improving Financial Well-Being of Workers in 2014. Retrieved June 12th, 2014, from Aon Hewitt.
APA. (February, 2013). Stress in America: Missing hte Health Care Connection. Retrieved June 13th, 2014, from American Psychological Association.
CFED. (April, 2014). Nearly 70 Million Americans Have No Emergency Savings. Retrieved June 12th, 2014, from the Corporation for Enterprise Development.
Financial Literacy Partners. (2005). Employee Financial Stress is Costing Your Company a Bundle–And How You Can Stop It Now! Retrieved June 12th, 2014, from Financial Literacy Partners, LLC.
Purchasing Power. (July, 2013). Financial Wellness: Addressing the “9 to 5” Impact of 24/7 Financial Stress. Retrieved June 13th, 2014, from Purchasing Power.
Qian, Ruisha. (June, 2013). The Toll of Financial Stress in the Workplace. Retrieved June 13th, 2014, from Kiplinger.