Nearly one-quarter, 23%, of employees feel “high” or “overwhelming”
financial stress, up from only 18% in 2012 and 19% in 2011, according to a
survey by Financial Finesse, a provider of financial education to workers.
Employers have a role in helping people with financial
stress as well, says Liz Davidson, chief
executive officer of Financial Finesse. They can offer financial wellness programs to
teach their workers practical money skills. “Employers can offer
workshops, webcasts, an online financial wellness center and one-on-one
financial coaching to help simplify financial complexities and help busy
employees get the most out of their benefits,” Davidson says. “A
workplace-based financial wellness program saves busy parents time, and has
been proven to reduce financial stress as well as create a sense of loyalty
between employee and employer.”
Underscoring the need for financial wellness programs is the
fact that among all employees, 85% report at least some level of financial stress,
Financial Finesse says. Among those who feel overwhelming financial stress, 84%
say they feel like their financial situation is not under control, 56% are not
confident they will be able to meet future financial goals, 26% do not know who
to trust with investing their money, and 29% worry about the U.S. economy
and/or stock market and how that will affect their financial future.
Not surprisingly, those who feel overwhelming financial
stress have poor money management behaviors, with only 8% of this group having
an emergency fund, a mere 14% comfortable with the amount of debt they are
carrying, 18% having a handle on their cash flow, 53% paying their bills on time
and 34% carrying a loan or hardship withdrawal from their 401(k) plan.
all age groups, women experience significantly higher
levels of financial stress than men, with the most frazzled group being
between the ages of 30 and 55 with minor children and annual incomes
$60,000. More than half, 55%, of this group feels elevated levels of
stress. The least financially stressed group is men younger than 30 or
older than 55 with no minor children and annual incomes above $100,000,
with only 6%
of these groups experiencing financial stress.
“While it’s no surprise to any working mother that juggling
competing financial needs is stressful, small steps over time can create
financial balance for families at any income level,” Davidson says. Three steps people can take to
alleviate financial anxiety is to build an emergency fund, pay down
high-interest debt and take advantage of employer-sponsored benefits at work,
namely save for retirement.
The good news is that more employers are offering financial wellness programs to help their employees reduce their financial stress. The
Financial Finesse survey can be uploaded here.