Financial stress hampers employee performance, retirement savings

U.S. workers are stressed about their personal financial situations, which is their work performance and retirement savings plans, according to a new Society for Human Resource Management survey.

Over the last year, 55 percent of respondents agree they have been more likely to dip into their employer-sponsored retirement savings plans compared with previous years, and 17 percent strongly agreed. Twenty-four percent of respondents say they have not been more likely to rely on retirement savings, and 3 percent of respondents say they strongly disagree that they have been more likely to use their retirement savings.

Regarding the effect of employees’ personal financial challenges upon work performance, 22 percent of respondents say it causes a large impact while 61 percent of respondents say it is some impactful. Another 16 percent of respondents say there is a slight impact. Among the respondents, only 2 percent say they felt no impact.

“The source of money woes is unsurprising, but the toll it’s taking on both workers and their employers in addition to the persistence of the weak economy are all troubling issues,” says Mark J. Schmit, Ph.D., SPHR, vice president of research at SHRM.

The survey also shows that 47 percent of respondents are aware of employees’ struggle with their ability to focus on work, 46 percent of respondents notice issues with overall employee stress, and 26 percent of respondents see a negative impact on overall employee productivity. Twenty-four percent of respondents cite money problems as a leading cause to employee absenteeism and tardiness while 20 percent of respondents are worried about the general employee morale.

Of the respondents, 12 percent are seeing a negative impact on overall employee health, and 7 percent say working relationships with other employees are the least impacted. Forty-nine percent of respondents also report employees being stressed by not enough monetary funds to cover their personal expenses. These troubles include medical expenses at 35 percent and saving for retirement at 26 percent.

The survey also reveals that 52 percent of employers offer financial education to their employees, and 79 percent make available access to employee assistance programs, which includes financial counseling and resources. Another 68 percent of respondents provide financial education specific to employer-provided benefits, such are retirement, medical insurance and flexible spending accounts while 47 percent of respondents offer financial education limited to retirement-related planning.

Of the 52 percent of employers that help employees understand financial planning, 39 percent cover budgeting, paying for education, debt reduction, credit card use, homeownership and taxes.

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