Nearly three out of four employees are experiencing heavy levels of stress attributable to financial concerns, according to a new survey. In addition, stress about their finances is impeding productivity, with 45 percent reporting that their financial stress makes it harder for them to do their job.
The March 2008 survey of U.S. working adults was commissioned by Workplace Options, a provider of employee work/life benefits.
The firm says that employee calls to its financial assistance help desk, where counselors address questions on financial management issues including debt reduction, home buying, budgeting and prevention of foreclosure and bankruptcy, increased 41 percent from the first quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2008.
"This increase echoes the survey results that employees are more and more stressed over financial concerns," says Workplace Options CEO Dean Debnam.
What To Tell Stressed-Out Employees
Workers who are physically, emotionally and financially stressed are more apt to experience burnout and reduced morale. To help employees reduce their financial stress, Debnam recommends that HR professionals advise them to take the following steps:
1. Set goals. Developing specific goals is the first step to identifying what workers need to do in order to achieve financial stability. Setting and writing down goals can provide motivation to achieve them within a specific timeframe.
2. Establish a spending plan. Making a list of their income sources, and then identifying their monthly spending habits, can help workers to compare their spending to monthly earnings—and help them to identify ways to save more and spend less.
3. Reduce debt. With rising interest rates, debt can accumulate more quickly. But when push comes to shove, belts can usually be tightened at least somewhat, and living more moderately can get employees closer to financial freedom. Some lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or walking more, can save on expenses and improve health.
4. Educate themselves. Understanding their finances, and being aware of available sources for financial management advice, can help workers to get back on the right financial path. HR can help connect them to these resources.
Stephen Miller is manager of SHRM Online's Compensation & Benefits Focus Area.