Employees aren’t happy about the state of their finances.
In fact, despite having improved for several years, employee financial wellness has lost substantial ground in many areas over the last year—and the stress is showing.
According to PwC’s Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which tracks the financial well-being of full-time employed U.S. adults across the country, “many employees never fully regained stable footing” after the Great Recession—and indeed are experiencing increasing financial stress.
Fifty-two percent indicate they are stressed about their finances and 45 percent say that their stress has increased over the last 12 months.
That’s not good news for employers, since financial stress takes a toll not just on employees but also on a company’s bottom line, via reduced productivity, increased health issues with correspondingly higher health care costs and lost time at work.
Employees lying awake at night trying to figure out how to stretch their paychecks further, or taking time out of the workday to talk with creditors or even calculate how to divide that last paycheck aren’t at their peak, so it’s in employers’ best interests to help worried employees do better at managing their available funds.
Here are 10 financial issues contributing to that falling level of employee financial wellness.
10. Employees have increased financial responsibilities.
According to the survey, more employees are providing financial support for parents or in-laws, with 22 percent now financially responsible—compared to 16 percent in 2015.
Longer lifespans for a large aging population, many of whom lack adequate long-term health care protection, are combining to dump the financial responsibility for at least some of those costs onto the next generation.
9. Distraction at work is a big issue.
More than one in four employees—28 percent—say outright that issues with personal finances have been a distraction at work; that’s up from 20 percent last year.
And close to half—46 percent—of those who are distracted by their finances at work say that at work each week they spend three hours or more thinking about or dealing with issues related to their personal finances. That’s up from 37 percent last year, and something that should be a concern for employers.
8. Emergency savings worries worse for women.
Neither men nor women are satisfied with the amount of emergency savings they’ve managed to amass, with 55 percent overall saying so compared with 51 percent in 2015.
But women have it worse; 60 percent say they don’t have enough emergency savings set aside for unexpected expenses, compared with 50 percent of men.
7. Rising credit card balances hurt.
If there isn’t enough cash on hand, what’s to be done in an emergency? Turn to credit cards.
And workers are increasingly doing so, with 43 percent of employees earning $100,000 or more consistently carrying balances in 2016. In 2015, only 32 percent did.
And among boomers, it’s worse: while in 2015 37 percent of boomers carried balances on their credit cards, this year that percentage rose to 46 percent.
6. Job loss would hit them hard.
Less than half—41 percent—of employees could manage to stay afloat on their basic expenses if they were out of work for an extended period of time. And while it’s not a huge decrease, that’s down from 42 percent last year.
Predictably, women, with lower pay and a harder time making ends meet, would suffer more; only 36 percent of women say they could keep up with basic expenses without their jobs, while 45 percent of men said they could.
5. They’re cutting spending—or trying to.
More than half (55 percent) of employees have changed their spending behavior in the past 12 months in order to save money on day-to-day necessities. That’s up from 48 percent last year.
In spite of this, they’re more financially stressed this year than last, which means that simply cutting spending isn’t resolving their money woes.
Part of that problem could be their homes, with 18 percent of employees who own homes and carry a mortgage saying that the outstanding balance of their mortgage is greater than the current value of their home.
Of the 18 percent, 59 percent have attempted to modify the terms of their mortgage with their lenders (consistent with 60 percent last year), 33 percent have received a foreclosure notice within the last 24 months (also 33 percent last year) and some are considering pursuing a foreclosure, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or short sale to remedy their situation.
4. Financial stress is the biggest source of stress in their lives.
There are plenty of things to stress about, with respondents citing health concerns (15 percent), their jobs (20 percent) and relationships (15 percent), but no matter the generation workers belonged to, financial stress/money matters topped the list, with 45 percent saying it was their chief stressor.
It’s also the biggest stressor for women, 49 percent of whom put it at the top of the list.
Men did a bit better, with 41 percent saying that financial matters cause them the most stress.
3. Financial stress is worst for millennials.
In 2015, millennials outpaced GenXers to make up the largest share of the workforce. But their financial wellness is worse than that of other generations.
Not only do nearly half of full-time employed millennials find it tough to meet their monthly expenses, that generation is more likely to be stressed about their finances and distracted by their finances while at work.
In fact, 37 percent of millennials say they’re distracted by finances at work, which is up from 22 percent last year.
2. Student loans make the problem worse.
Student loans have a large part to play in this gloomy picture.
When compared with all other employees, those who say that their student debt has a moderate or significant impact on their ability to meet their financial goals experience higher stress (81 percent, compared with 46 percent); more difficulty meeting household expenses (65 percent, compared with 35 percent); greater use of credit cards to pay for monthly expenses they couldn’t otherwise afford (41 percent, compared with 22 percent); are more likely to be distracted at work due to their finances (50 percent, compared with 23 percent), and are more likely to raid their retirement funds (57 percent, compared with 40 percent).
1. Employees know their financial woes are causing problems in lots of areas.
Employees admit that financial worries have impacted their health, relationships, productivity, and time away from work, with 28 percent acknowledging hits on their health; 23 percent having problems with relationships at home; 17 percent pointing to work productivity; and 8 percent saying they’ve occasionally missed work.
And four percent say financial worries are eating away at “other” aspects of their lives.