Impact of financially-stressed employees on American companies

by Larry A. Connaster, Family Financial Management Specialist

Employee financial stress has been a major problem in the U.S. for more than a decade Considering unemployment, underemployment and menial salary increases coupled with rising costs for health care, insurance, education, food, taxes, automobiles and entertainment, there’s no wonder workers and retirees are stressed out.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, more than 75 percent of Americans worry about money. A 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association found that 72 percent of American adults said they felt stressed about money some of the time.

In a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers financial wellness survey, 40 percent of respondents revealed they find it difficult to make ends meet. The Federal Reserve reports that nearly half of American would have to borrow or sell something to come up with $400 in an emergency.

I recently participated in a National Press Club conference held in Washington, D.C. where the theme and focus was on the “Double Bottom Line: Business Benefits of Employee Financial Well-Being.” It was sponsored by the Prudential Insurance Company, Ford Foundation and the Aspen Institute (a non-partisan educational and policy studies organization).

The highlight of the program was a discussion of a three-year, $5 million commitment to the Aspen Institute to advance solutions for increasing financial security for all Americans. The goal is to help move workers from financial fragility toward resilience, mobility and prosperity.

Employers are in a position to address these stress issues which should increase worker productivity, engagement and retention, according to the program announcement.

Proactive to this plight, Virginia Cooperative Extension began offering workshops on this issue in July 2015. One titled, Worry Less About Money, is a one-day, interactive, professional development workshop for business, health care and government-agency supervisors. It teaches techniques that foster employee enthusiasm and workplace commitment for improved organizational productivity. Just as importantly, it helps managers understand how to help workers cope with worry, stress and anxiety related to money.

Hopefully, more companies will become more involved and invest in addressing employee financial stress and its negative impacts.

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the National Cooperative Extension are here to serve the citizens of Virginia and the nation. We remain steadfast in our fervor to work with companies and organizations to improve the financial security and well-being of individuals, families and entrepreneurs.