Personal financial stress affecting employee performance: SHRM

One-half of U.S. firms providing financial education to employees
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 01/25/2012

United States workers' money worries are impacting their work performance and retirement savings plans, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The survey asked 458 HR professionals questions, including, "In the past 12 months, have employees been more likely to dip into their employer-sponsored retirement savings plans compared with previous years?"

More than one-half (55 per cent) of HR professionals agreed, while 17 per cent strongly agreed. A little less than one-quarter (24 per cent) disagreed, and three per cent strongly disagreed, found the survey.

When asked the impact of employees' personal financial challenges upon work performance, roughly 22 per cent of surveyed respondents said it had a large impact. Sixty-one per cent noted some impact while 16 per cent responded a slight 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," said Mark Schmit, vice-president of research at SHRM.

A closer look at the impact on work performance shows that:

•47 per cent of HR professionals noticed employees' struggle with their ability to focus on work
•46 per cent noticed issues with overall employee stress
•26 per cent observed a negative impact on overall employee productivity
•24 per cent said money woes are leading to employee absenteeism and tardiness
•20 per cent are concerned about overall employee morale
•12 per cent noticed a negative impact on overall employee health
•Seven per cent said working relationships with other employees are the least impacted.

Nearly one-half (49 per cent) of HR professionals said employees are stressed by an overall lack of monetary funds to cover their personal expenses. Some money woes were more specific like medical expenses and saving for retirement said 35 per cent and 26 per cent of HR professionals, respectively.

Twenty-two per cent of HR professionals attribute worker money woes to credit card debt and the same number also cited home mortgage payments.

Roughly 12 per cent said education expenses were causing workers' financial stress that was noticeable in the workplace. Education expenses include the employee's own tuition costs, that for dependent children, or other family members, found the survey.

Fifty-two per cent, of organizations represented in the survey currently provide financial education to their employees. A closer look shows that 79 per cent offer access to an employee assistance program (EAP) that includes financial counselling and resources. Sixty-eight per cent provide financial education specific to employer-provided benefits such are retirement, medical insurance and flexible spending accounts. Nearly one-half (47 per cent) offer financial education limited to retirement-related planning.

Among the 52 per cent of organizations that teach employees about financial planning, 39 per cent cover budgeting, paying for education, debt reduction, credit card use, homeownership and taxes.

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