By Roxanna Coldiron
If it seems as if your employees are using more and more of their sick leave, it could be that they are dealing with financial stress. An American Psychology Association survey revealed that 72 percent of Americans feel stressed about their financial situations and 22 percent feel “extremely stressed.” Stress can cause employees to feel ill, lower their motivation and decrease their productivity at work.
Causes of financial stress
CNBC reported that 80 percent of Millennials with student loan debt experience “significant” or “very significant” stress. No wonder! The student loan debt totals $1.4 trillion with the average borrower owing more than $34,000 in loans. Students with master’s degrees often owe more than $50,000.
In addition, employees may feel stressed about the rising cost of living and the cost of raising their families. Medical bills can also weigh heavily on employees who are already struggling. All of these can contribute to the extreme financial stress that depletes the energy of employees and results in the use of more sick days.
What can employers do to motivate their employees and relieve some of this financial stress? The answer often goes beyond merely giving employees higher wages (although that is indeed an option). Offering unique benefits that address some of their concerns can ease the burden that they face while also increasing employee engagement and productivity.
High employee engagement often results in higher productivity. Even more, employees actually enjoy their jobs and want to come to work. This is a good thing for employers and contributes directly to the bottom line when employees put more into their work. An organization that values its employees often experiences high employee satisfaction and better outcomes than organizations that ignore their employees’ needs.
Financial wellness surveys
First, conduct an employee engagement survey to discover what benefits would mean the most to your employees. Do they want better options for saving toward retirement? Do they need student loan repayment assistance? Asking the right questions can go a long way in uncovering what causes employees to be stressed at work.
The survey should be used as a guide in designing employee benefits. For example, student loan repayment assistance can take the form of the employer offering to pay up to $100/month toward an employee’s student loans or covering one or two student loan payments. Companies that have implemented student loan repayment plans have learned that the benefit can be a great way to attract and retain talent at their organization.
Other financial wellness benefits
Another benefit that can ease the financial stress of employees could be a daycare allowance for those who have children or flexible schedules for those who need to manage family and life responsibilities. Employees can start later in the day or leave earlier. As long as they work eight hours a day and meet all of their deadlines, the start and end times can be flexible.
Financial wellness initiatives can make a major difference in the satisfaction and engagement of your employees. Extra stress means a loss in productivity. Employers should seek to alleviate this as much as possible for the mutual benefit of the employees and the organization.
Want to learn how to gain and retain employees with financial wellness benefits? Contact us today!