Happy employees are more productive, according to a recent study by the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. As we all know, though, there are many stress factors out there that can interfere with that happiness and negatively affect a worker’s productivity and overall well-being.
Financial stress is one, and can manifest itself in a number of ways. Whether you’re a small-business owner or a human resources manager, there are several things you can look out for to determine whether your employees or coworkers are struggling with money issues.
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 he or she is struggling with something larger. If that’s the case, consider suggesting a visit to a help center at a financial institution like Hanscom Federal Credit Union, where advice on money-related problems is provided.
Frequently requesting overtime
If an employee suddenly begins asking for more and more overtime hours, it may suggest 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.
Seeking early withdrawals from 401(k) plans
Making withdrawals from a 401(k) plan before the age of 59 and a half 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.
Showing signs of stress
Last but not least, trust your instincts to determine whether something is amiss. Ask yourself whether an employee appears agitated, extremely tired or displays sudden shifts in mood. If so, he or she 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 his or her 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.
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 could make them happier and enable them to better contribute to the team.