Modern life can be pretty stressful. Friends, family, life and work all put an incredible amount of pressure on us, all the time.
In small doses, stress can be a great motivator -- a short deadline, a challenging project, a lofty goal -- these can encourage efficiency and productivity every day. But what happens when stress becomes too much?
Many of us already know the many signs of elevated stress in the workplace.
Signs of stress in employees include:
- Loss of sense of humor
- Poor timekeeping
- Reduced quality of work
And if your teams are stressed, you’re probably stressed, too.
When tackling any problem at scale, the first step is to identify the core cause. In a recent survey conducted by PwC, they invested some serious energy into answering the question, “What exactly is keeping employees up at night?” The #1 answer is Financial Stress.
So, What is Financial Stress?
Today more than ever, employees are losing ZZZs over their $$$s. In fact, according to PwC, the official stat is that more than 36% of employees report that they’re financially stressed. And whether it’s the burden of personal debt, student loans, lack of retirement savings, or the rising cost of healthcare, their worries can manifest in many different ways.
You might be wondering, “How can I know for sure if it’s financial stress that’s affecting my employees?” It can be a challenge to know the core cause of stress even in your immediate vicinity, let alone in your whole company.
Here are 6 ways to tell -- by the numbers -- if Financial Stress is hurting your organization.
1. Take a look at 401(k) Plan Health
Inability to plan and save for the future is a major side effect of financial stress. Here are a couple diagnostic checks you can run on your company’s 401(k) to see if employees are missing the mark on retirement -- which is either already a huge source of stress, or will be soon.
- Calculate 401(k) plan participation rate and average deferral rate
- Monitor hardship withdrawal stats
- Tally up numbers of employees borrowing against their retirement accounts
- Look at how many new hires rolled over 401(k) accounts when they started at your organization. Those that didn’t may not have started saving at all.
2. Track Unexpected Absences
The occasional personal day is no cause for concern, but stats show that unexpected absences are on the rise -- and that employers should take note. In fact, in a recent survey of working Americans, 36% had missed a full or partial day because of financial stress, in the past year alone.
Consider the employee whose car broke down and they don’t have money for an emergency repair, so they miss a day trying to sort out other transportation. Or, the working parent who might call out near the end of the month when their childcare budget runs dry.
It’s also important to consider employees that may take leave for mental health reasons, for stress and anxiety caused by their financial situation.
3. Log Requests for Payday Advances
One sure sign of financial distress is when employees reach out for an advance on their paycheck. It can be incredibly hard to admit you’re struggling financially, especially to your managers, but there might be nowhere else for them to turn.
On your end as an employer, frequent payday advances can constrict cash flow, necessitate extra paperwork and processing, and -- most importantly -- prolong financial challenges for your employees. This request will be important to track to determine the level of chronic financial stress in your organization.
4. See How Many Have a Second Job (Or Side Hustle)
Here’s stat that might be surprising -- CNN reports that more than 44 million Americans report having a side hustle. Not as surprising? The majority of those hustlers are ages 18 to 26, that critical time when young people start to have bills and responsibilities, but their salary might not be enough to swing them.
It might sound like a good way to turn passion into profit after hours, but surveys report that more than 50% of side hustle workers put the money towards meeting basic expenses, not saving, investing or splurging.
If your full-time workforce is also part of the gig economy on nights and weekends, their money motivator might be making ends meet, not extra spending scratch. Working to hold down multiple jobs can result in a lack of focus at work, exhaustion and eventual burnout.
5. Check your Turnover Numbers
Employees come and go, and the reasons for their departures may vary. But according to data from The American Institute of Stress, 40% of employee turnover is due to stress. Financially stressed employees often feel like the can “earn” their way out of their financial issues, which leads them to change jobs quickly and often for only marginal pay bumps.
For employers, the cost of replacing a salaried employee can run upwards of 6 to 9 months salary on average. For example, a manager making $40,000 a year will cost an organization $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses after their departure.
Reports also show that while these financially stressed employees mentally commit their new short-term income to pay off debts, their lack of financial education leads them to elevate their lifestyle to fit their new salary instead.
This only continues to increase their financial burdens and stress, and could lead them to seek new employment quickly again. Therefore, it’s important to identify financially stressed employees that are on the way in, and way out of your organization.
6. Ask Them -- With an Anonymous Financial Wellness Assessment
Sometimes the best way to understand level of financial stress that your employees are experiencing is just to ask them. But tread lightly -- don’t just outright ask over lunch, or send a sketchy looking DIY survey around. Take time to conduct an actual Financial Wellness Assessment within your company.
Learn More about LearnLux’s Free Workplace Financial Wellness Assessment 💸
An anonymous Financial Wellness Assessment can easily help you see a high level picture of your employee’s financial health, from identifying risky financial behaviors and troubling trends to uncovering financial literacy blind spots.
Financial Wellness Assessments can also audit effectiveness of programs you might already have in place, to make sure they’re delivering results. Just be sure you’re using a trusted, independent Financial Wellness assessment provider. LearnLux, for example, is the leading provider of employee financial wellness tools and is not partnered or affiliated with any financial institutions, making the assessment tools completely unbiased.
Ready to Take Action?
Once you’ve identified if financial stress is affecting your team and costing your company lost productivity, then it’s time to act.
Establishing a Financial Wellness program at your organization will:
- Increase employee retention and engagement
- Increase productivity, because employees aren’t distracted by financial worries
- Reduce absenteeism
- Drive participation in and contribution to employer sponsored benefits and retirement plans (especially 401(k), HSA and FSA)
- Result in better physical health for your teams, as financially well employees are less prone to illness
- Build brand reputation and differentiate your organization’s benefits package when hiring top talent
Curious about how to take the first step towards implementing your Financial Wellness initiatives? Our team at LearnLux is happy to help. Use the form below to request a no-pressure demo of the industry’s leading Financial Wellness tools for employers.