How your employees’ financial well being affects your business

According to The American Psychological Association’s 2009 Stress in America report, 75 percent of Americans report experiencing moderate to high levels of stress when it comes to money. In fact, financial problems ranked as the No. 1 cause of stress in the poll, followed by work and the economy, and, last year, 42 percent of Americans reported an increase in stress.

And family money issues far outranked housing costs, health issues and job stability as sources of stress. But those issues don’t stay at home, says Sally Stephens, president of Spectrum Health Systems. These people struggling with financial issues are your employees, and they’re bringing that stress to work with them.

“Financial worries have been shown to affect employees’ performance at work,” she says. “Financial stress can impact absenteeism, productivity, retirement and, of course, health care costs.”

Smart Business spoke with Stephens about why employees’ financial issues should matter to you and what you can do to help.

Why should employers care about their employees’ financial health?

The 2009 Stress in America report clearly demonstrates the need for employee financial health care. Stressed workers are unhealthy and can cause a financial drain on their employer.

Adults with high levels of stress, above eight on a scale of 10, are less likely to eat healthy, exercise, lose weight, take steps to reduce their levels of stress and get enough sleep. High levels of stress can also lead to anxiety and depression.

How can an employee’s good financial health benefit both the employer and the employee?

Simply put, it can reduce health care costs, improve productivity and presenteeism, reduce absenteeism and create a better sense of well being among the work force.

Not only has the economic environment created challenges today, it has also shed light on the need for all of us to reduce our debt, increase savings and have a sound strategy for retirement, regardless of age. However, employees’ money management issues extend far beyond retirement, as many workers are struggling just to stay above water, let alone put money aside for the future. In addition, bankruptcies have risen steadily since 1985. All of these things are problems both for the employee and the employer, and they have serious social implications.

According to a recent Associated Press poll, half of Americans worry about debt, and 20 percent report worrying about it all the time. This creates so much stress that it affects their work. Such distractions can be a significant drain on productivity.