Five Signs of Employee Financial Stress

Worksite wellness education can help employees ease economic stress and counteract these distractions.

Employers should be on the watch for five clear signs to see if their employees are undergoing financial stress—a known risk factor for distractions at work and lower productivity, according to Purchasing Power, an employee benefits company. The signs are:

Asking for hardship withdrawals or loans from their retirement plan;

Asking for salary advances;

Taking unexpected days off;

Incurring medical costs that could have been prevented by routine checkups; and

Spending time dealing with personal financial issues while on the job.

A vast majority of full-time employees (80%) say they have financial stress, and 33% of employees spend an average of 1.7 hours a week dealing with personal finances while at work, according to a Harris Poll conducted in July 2014 on behalf of Purchasing Power.

Many employees are bringing their financial worries with them to work, says Elizabeth Halkos, chief revenue officer of Purchasing Power. “Ultimately, financial stress becomes a distraction while at work [and] employees with financial issues don’t know how to resolve their situation.”

Working with their retirement plan advisers, plan ponsors should proactively look out for these signs of financial stress and offer financial wellness education, Halkos suggests. In fact, Purchasing Power found through asurvey that 40% of employees would take advantage of a financial wellness education program offered by their or their spouse’s employer. By helping employees improve their bottom line, the employer inevitably improves their bottom line as well, she says.