Financial stress driving absenteeism: Survey

SHRM research shows two-fifths of HR professionals say employees have missed work because of a financial emergency

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A majority of HR professionals describe the financial health of their employees as no better than fair, and young workers are under the most financial stress, according to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management.

And that financial stress is manifesting itself in the form of absenteeism, found the Employee Financial Stress survey of 419 HR professionals in the United States conducted by Elevate in May and June. Almost two-fifths of respondents said employees have missed work in the past 12 months because of a financial emergency.

“The results could signal that financial issues are a growing challenge for employees in many workplaces,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs. “Anxiety related to finances could be an increasing source of employee stress that has a direct impact on health-care costs, absence and productivity. As a result, money management strategies — including budgeting and investing — may increasingly be considered as part of workplace stress management and wellness initiatives.”

Financial literacy

A majority of respondents (70 per cent) said their employees were somewhat financially literate, while 17 per cent were not at all financially literate.

Overall, 61 per cent described the financial situation of their employees as no better than fair. Organizations with a larger percentage of hourly employees were more likely to say that their employees’ overall financial health was fair and rate their employees as not at all financially literate.

Retirement planning (81 per cent) and financial literacy training for investing (42 per cent) were the most common types of services offered to employees.

Third-party loans

One-in-five organizations (19 per cent) offer employees loan products from a third-party provider and 18 per cent offer payroll advances.

Of employers that offer that offered such services, almost three-quarters said they have had a positive impact on employees’ overall ability to manage their financial difficulties.

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