Money Matters: Is Employee Financial Wellness an Employer Concern?
By Karen Viveiros, Communications Manager, Ceridian
Money. Credit. Debt. Financial strain. Unforeseen financial emergencies. Retirement fears and doubts. To most of us, topics like these are deeply personal and typically not suitable for open, candid discussion.
However, employers are becoming increasingly concerned with employee financial wellness, and increasingly committed to supporting it. A 2014 AON Hewitt survey of plan sponsors revealed that 30 percent are “very likely” to create or expand resources available to participants to examine financial wellness beyond retirement decisions, and 48 percent are “somewhat likely” to create or expand financial management resources.
According to a recent webinar delivered by Workforce.com, “financial wellness is a program or set of programs designed to improve employees’ financial behavior and outcomes while also driving business impact.” There are many strategies employers can put into place to boost employee financial wellness, from education and workshops, to financial risk assessments, money apps, and clear, frequent communication about benefits.
Why? Bottom line: Your employees worry about money. Here is the current reality for many Americans:
- According to a 2014 “Employee Financial Wellness Survey” by PricewaterhouseCoopers, almost half of all employees say dealing with their finances is stressful, and 24 per cent say they’re distracted at work by financial issues.
- In a 2010 survey by Gallup, just 6 per cent of employees “strongly agreed” that their employer did things to help them manage their finances more effectively.
- A study by CardHub revealed that in Q3 of 2015 we racked up $21.3 billion in new credit card debt. To put things in perspective, that is the largest Q3 jump in new credit card debt since the Great Recession.
- The average household carries a credit card balance of $7,200.
Money stress is stress, which can be damaging to an employee’s mental and physical well-being, and affect workplace productivity. Financial stress, just like any other source of stress, if prolonged and unmanaged, can:
- Affect mood, increase irritability, reduce patience
- Lead to sleepless nights, cause fatigue
- Reduce focus while at work
- Take away from work time, whether due to fielding distressing calls from creditors or managing financial issues while at work
- Lead to the development of a mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety
- Cause absenteeism
- Although rare, contribute to fraudulent activity in the workplace including misuse of corporate credit cards, theft of company assets, etc.
To quote Gail Vaz-Oxlade, a leading money guru in Canada: “To many, money and debt are still a mystery.” Without a sense of control over this critical aspect of their lives, employees are vulnerable to financial issues festering and becoming major issues that can affect overall well-being and performance. As an employer, you may want to consider how you can contribute to the solution.
As part of our full-service EAP offerings, Ceridian LifeWorks offers a wealth of resources to help employees with their finances including confidential financial wellness coaching. Accredited financial consultants are available 24/7 to support with budgeting, setting goals, and managing financial stress.
January is National Financial Wellness Month. How will you support your people on their journey to financial wellness?
Click to learn more about Ceridian LifeWorks and how an Employee Assistance Program can help your employees manage personal and professional challenges.
Karen Viveiros is an Accredited Business Communicator (IABC) with a Bachelor’s degree (Adv.) in Psychology/Sociology and a diploma in Communications. She is trained in Mental Health First Aid, and an avid reader of general wellness and mental health-related research articles and reports. Karen has been an employee of Ceridian for more than 12 years, most recently dedicated to supporting the communications needs of LifeWorks. Married to Chris and a mother of two, Karen volunteers as a soccer coach and within the school, loves to walk, and practices yoga. She talks openly about mental health issues, championing the importance of self-care, knowing our limits, and managing stress.