How to Spot Signs of Financial Stress Among Employees

A white male warehouse worker squats down to scan the barcode on a box in a stack. He's wearing a hard had and reflective safety vest, and tall shelves of boxes are behind him.

Happy employees are more productive according to a recent study by the University of Oxford’s SAÏD Business School. As we all know, though, there are many stress factors that can negatively affect a worker’s productivity and overall wellbeing. 

Finances are a big source of stress and they can manifest in a number of ways. If you’re a small business owner or a human resources manager, here are several clues your employees or coworkers may be struggling with money issues:

1. Repeatedly asking for pay advances

There’s probably no need to be concerned if an employee requests a pay advance once or twice. Unexpected expenses pop up occasionally, and getting paid early can help to deal with those emergencies. But if you realize that a worker is making a habit out of this, it may be a sign that they are struggling with something bigger than a one-time emergency. If that’s the case, consider suggesting a visit to a help center at a financial institution like Hanscom Federal Credit Union to get sound advice on money-related problems.

2. Frequently requesting overtime

If an employee suddenly begins asking for more and more overtime hours, it may suggest there's a problem making ends meet at home. As a manager, this can also put you in a bind, since it may become impossible to give all the available overtime work to only one person.

3. Seeking early withdrawals from 401(k) plans

Making withdrawals from a 401(k) plan before the age of 59 1/2 will result in some hefty taxes — namely 10% of the total distribution amount. Therefore, many financial advisors say that taking money from a retirement account early should be a last resort. If you receive a request for an early withdrawal, it might signal that the employee is in a tight squeeze financially.

4. Showing signs of stress

Last but not least, trust your instincts if something seems amiss with a co-worker or employee. Ask yourself whether they appear agitated, extremely tired, or if they display sudden shifts in mood. If so, they may be dealing with financial hardship. These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored, and it might be a good idea to initiate a conversation with that person to determine what’s wrong and to suggest possible solutions.

The bottom line

Although you can’t possibly offer a raise to each and every employee who is having trouble managing their finances, you can certainly point them in the right direction. Many financial institutions, for instance, have excellent — and free — educational resources and blogs on their websites. If an employee is struggling with consumer debt, point them toward credit counseling services. A good financial institution can help your employees establish emergency funds, start automated savings habits, and get on the road to being debt free.

Offering support is a win-win move both for the worker and the company. Reaching out and lending help to staff and coworkers who are burdened by financial stress can make them happier and enable them to contribute to the team more effectively. 

We're here to help your employees. We have financial education programs to show your employees how to handle debt, manage their money, and budget like a pro. Learn more about what our Financial Wellness team at Hanscom FCU can do for you, your employees, and your bottom line!

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Hanscom Federal Credit Union
Hanscom Federal Credit Union

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