Helping Employees Manage Financial Stress
The approach of the holiday season is an exciting time, with Christmas, summer and a much needed break in the sun, just around the corner. The festive spirit, extended leave and relaxing holiday ahead may not be the case for the 2.44million Australians who are currently experiencing financial stress.
Financial stress does not solely affect someone’s personal life, and studies into this show that “employees troubled by their financial circumstances take an extra 2.4 sick days per year and spend almost an hour per week dealing with money problems at work.” So, how can employers identify and address this issue? We see health programs like yoga or a free gym membership incorporated into employee benefits, but is the problem of individual financial stress actually being addressed through these practices? The short answer is no.
A few straight forward strategies & thought-starters for employers include...
Allow for flexible work hours & work from home
Ilaine Anderson the AMP Director of Workplace Superannuation states “the research found flexible working hours and the ability to work from home improved employee performance, engagement and financial wellness.” Allowing employees the option of flexible workplace engagements is a step towards encouraging financial wellness, and supports a healthy work life balance, too.
Reduce the stigma through conversations
Encouraging the discussion of financial comfort can also have a positive impact on the psychological wellbeing of an employee. “Reducing the stigma around financial stress is also important, as many of those surveyed cited embarrassment and guilt as a major reason for not tackling their financial woes.” Providing resources and education that actively promote financial wellness can help motivate employees to take a direct approach and to not sweep financial woes under the rug, ultimately worsening their situation.
Provide access to resources that help individuals plan & manage their financial position
AMP suggests that encouraging employees to accumulate an emergency buffer fund to deal with unanticipated expenses may assist with future financial stressors and reduce their negative financial impact. How is your organisation providing (and promoting) access to resources and education around financial wellness?
Employers have a responsibility and opportunity to educate employees on how to reach and sustain financial wellness, in turn increasing productivity and a positive workplace culture. While the statistics represent that financial wellness is increasing and financial stress is on the decline within the workplace, there is still a long way to go. With financial stress costing businesses around $31.1b in lost revenue annually, employers have more than just a workplace culture concern to think about. Providing education, support and promoting financial preparation are key to ensuring future employee financial wellness.