Low productivity is so common, you may not even realize it’s affecting your bottom line.
Here are just a few of the things that strain on-the-job productivity:
- Work overload, which decreases productivity by 68%
- Work-related stress, which can lead to employees taking 4.6 sick days per year instead of the 2.6 taken by low-stress employees
- Overload of emails. The average worker sends and receives 215.3 business emails per day
- Unnecessary meetings. Employees report an average of 62 meetings per month, adding up to 31 (often wasted) hours
But there’s more…
Researchers are now discovering that normal workplace stressors aren’t the only issues with productivity. Employees are bringing personal worries to work with them, impacting productivity even more.
This under-the-radar trigger for low workplace productivity is financial stress. And it’s costing employers far more than they’d like. Keep reading to learn how it could be affecting your business and what you can do about it.
The true impact of financial stress
According to Willis Towers Watson, employees’ dissatisfaction and stress over finances is on the rise.
A third of employees report that they’re worried about money issues:
- 48% worry about their current finances
- 59% worry about their future finances
The source of these worries? They’re as varied as life itself.
The truth is, most workers live paycheck to paycheck. Career Builder confirms that 71% of minimum wage workers can’t make ends meet. And even workers earning a comfortable living are struggling to stay afloat.
Any unexpected expense, payroll mistake, or change in the status quo can set off a cascade of financial burdens, making it hard to catch up and regain control.
These aren’t the types of worries you can leave at home. Studies are showing they have a real impact on workplace productivity.
Presenteeism, a condition where workers are physically present but mentally absent, is one way this manifests. Workers are unable to focus, show lower engagement, and make more mistakes.
You’ll also see it in higher absenteeism and tardiness. One study found that employees undergoing high levels of financial stress can spend 20 hours, or 13%, of their work hours in a given month to resolve their problems. Half of the participants admitted that in the previous month, they had lost the equivalent of two days of productive work.
What is the cost to you? According to Mercer, Inc., absenteeism can cost a company 36% of its base payroll.
Clearly, it’s worth figuring out a way to reduce your employees’ financial stress so they can focus on the job at hand.
What can you do to help?
One solution is to find your employee a lower stress job, especially if they’re struggling with anxiety. This way you might be able to improve their productivity in the long run and give them a mental boost. However, that’s not always the right option, as we’ll discuss in this article.
Two-thirds of companies are now offering financial wellness benefits, training and tools to help workers reduce stress and gain competency in four key areas: budgeting, saving, debt reduction, and retirement planning.
Three in five companies offer assessment tools to identify the most important financial issues to address.
Among other things, to identify the employees who are struggling financially, and to understand high-risk financial behaviors and offer better options. Ultimately, though, they hope to reduce financial concerns for their employees, so productivity and morale improve.
According to Lockton, helping workers become more financially savvy is a good place to start.
Most people want help regaining control of their finances. And they’re eager to receive help from their employers.
How to start your financial wellness program
The good news is it doesn’t have to be a formal or expensive program. It only needs to provide help where your employees need it most.
To begin, survey your employees to identify their biggest financial stressors. More than likely, they’ll include:
- Paying down credit card debt
- Creating a budget
- Saving for future needs, such as education or retirement
- Investing their hard-earned money
- Improving their credit score
But you probably need to start more basic than that.
Make sure your employees understand their pay stub: what goes in and what comes out. Four out of 10 employees don’t understand the taxes and deductions that take a chunk out of their paychecks and would appreciate a clear explanation. This infographic lays it out clearly for anyone to understand.
Then look for books, training courses, or presentations that can raise your employees’ financial IQ. Set up lunch-n-learn days or stock a library or courses and books. Make it a group event by scheduling discussion days for everyone to share what they’ve learned and ask questions. Finally, invite a financial counselor to be available for 1-on-1 coaching if anyone needs it.
We’re careful to care for our employees’ physical well-being through health insurance, but all too often, we ignore other stressors that impact their ability to work. Financial stress is the number one stressor that impacts their energy, attention, and productivity.
Help them with that, and you’ll be helping your business growth as well.
Kathryn Aragon is an award-winning content strategist, copywriter, and author. As Wagepoint’s Content Manager, she’s dedicated to sharing helpful strategies that simplify payroll and business management.