Money Woes Affecting Workers, HR Professionals Say in SHRM Survey

May 14, 2014

Financial education helpful in countering impact on employee performance

ALEXANDRIA, Va.— A lack of money to cover expenses is affecting employees at their organizations, 41 percent of human resources professionals reported in a new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and almost as many HR representatives said employees are faced with more financial challenges today than early in the recession.

“Even in an improving economy, many workers continue to struggle with their finances,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM's Survey Programs. “Two out of five workers are having a harder time with money now compared with the onset of the recession in 2007.”

Medical expenses are the most common personal financial challenge affecting employees, 42 percent of HR professionals said in the Financial Wellness in the Workplace survey released today by SHRM. This represents a 7 percentage point increase from 2011.

Sponsored by McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union, the survey polled 401 randomly selected HR professionals with the title of assistant director or a more senior title. The survey, conducted from December 2013 through January 2014, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

Almost one-quarter of respondents said their employees are more financially challenged than even a year ago. Almost two-thirds said employees have been more likely to request a loan from a defined contribution savings plan in the past 12 months compared to previous years.

The result of these challenges? Seventy percent said personal financial challenges have an impact (large or some) on overall employee performance, notably causing stress and affecting the ability to focus on work.

“Knowing the influence that financial challenges have on employees and their performance, HR professionals should consider offering a financial counseling program for their employees,” said Bruce Elliott, SHRM’s manager of benefits and compensation. “And when it comes to keeping and attracting talented workers, financial education and retirement saving and planning are important benefits.”

Esen noted, “Because the survey suggests that Baby Boomer and Generation X employees are most likely to participate in financial education, programs should be tailored to appeal to and help the workplace’s various generations.”

Fifty-seven percent of respondents in the survey said their organizations provided financial education to their employees. The most common types were retirement planning (offered by 79 percent of the respondents who provided financial education), financial counseling/resources though an employee assistance program (75 percent) and financial investment planning (56 percent).

But one-quarter of respondents said their organizations faced obstacles in providing financial education for their employees. The greatest challenges were cost (cited by 33 percent of respondents) and lack of interest from staff (28 percent).

What prevents organizations from offering their employees financial education? Cost (24 percent) and lack of staff resources (22 percent).

The full survey report is available at

Media: A representative of SHRM’s Survey Research Center is available to answer your questions about the survey. For interview requests, please contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and or Vanessa Gray at 703-535-6072 and

Follow the Research Department on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at Follow us on Twitter at: @SHRMPress

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