What would you do with $300 billion dollars?
American businesses might want to ask themselves that question. The astounding figure is the amount that businesses lose every year because of their employees’ stress levels, according to the American Institute of Stress, and money is a primary source of that stress. Financial stress kills employee productivity.
Three out of five Americans (62%) cite money and work as their major sources of stress according to a 2017 report by the American Psychological Association and American Institute of Stress.
Not having enough emergency savings for unexpected expenses tops the list of financial stresses in another survey, published by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2019. Two more immediate stresses – not being able to meet monthly expenses and not being able to keep up with debts – concerned 41 and 29 percent of millennial respondents respectively, the highest percentages in those categories in five years.
"The sources of financial stress depend on the individual," said Maria Porto, Hanscom Federal Credit Union's AVP of partner relations.
In addition to the issues found in the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, Porto finds employees are also worried about paying off student loans, children returning home after college, and having enough in retirement savings.
Physical and fiscal health go hand in hand, she said. “When employees are stressed about their finances, it affects their physical health. It’s a vicious cycle that becomes a double whammy to employee productivity.”
Consider this not unfamiliar cycle. You worry about how to pay the mortgage. You don’t concentrate so clearly on work, so you forget about that key meeting or make an error on an important report. Then you worry about how these mistakes will impact your job security, which will bring you back to square one: You worry about how to pay the mortgage.
It’s enough to keep you up at night.
A July 2019 Bankrate survey reveals that 56 percent of U.S. adults admit to losing sleep over at least one money worry. A third of consumers say it’s everyday expenses — how to make ends meet — that keeps them up at night. “With household costs rising and incomes remaining largely flat, it’s no wonder people are stressed trying to figure out how they will pay the bills,” Porto added.
While many people sometimes let worries keep them up at night, the Bankrate survey shows money worries top the list over all the other causes of sleepless nights.
So how do you break the cycle of stress?
Financial worries can be overwhelming, so the first step is to take the proverbial deep breath and then consider these options:
Take an honest look at your situation. Hiding the bills under the cactus plant might be tempting but facing your situation head-on is the only way to find real answers. Write down what you owe. Figure out how long it will take to pay off your debts. Knowledge brings power and fully understanding your situation might help you breathe more easily.
Remember, you have options. Look at your spending and consider ways you can reduce it. Do you need 800 cable channels? Would using the office refrigerator or microwave allow you to bring lunch from home, avoiding the frantic and financially draining dash at noon to the nearest lunch place? A library card is like kryptonite to financial distress. Libraries are treasure troves of free material, including books, DVDs, CDs, and passes to museums and other family-friendly destinations.
Then there are bigger ideas. Is it time to take a second job or turn your passion for baking, crafting, or caring for the lawn into a second job? Buy a smaller place? Scrap grand vacation plans in place of checking out cool day trips?
The answers may start at the very source of the stress: The office. Many companies offer free financial education programs in the workplace to help ease stress. Porto and her team work with companies to provide these free programs from Hanscom FCU.
“Employees have mentioned that our financial literacy programs engage their employees and make them appreciate all that the employer is doing to help them personally,’’ she said.
Knowing what resources are available can ease the pressure of feeling you are alone with your worries, with no answers in sight. It allows them to focus on their jobs.
Hanscom FCU's financial education programs can be delivered to workers remotely...just give us a call and let us take care of the rest.
Be that employer who goes above and beyond for your employees. Hanscom FCU's financial education programs are free, and they have the potential to make your employees more productive in the workplace. Learn more.