No matter who you are, or what you do, it’s likely you know what it feels like to be overly stressed out because of your job. Similarly, unless you’re born with a father who will give you “A small loan of $1 million,” you’ve also known what it feels like to feel the distinct pressure of financial problems.
Unfortunately, whether you’ve personally experienced them or not, both feelings are extremely familiar to your employees. Stress, including both financial and workplace stress, is consistent among most employees. A whopping 43 percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress. And, according to five separate sources, your employees are feeling the unique stressors of work and finances:
- Eight in 10 workers say they’re stressed by at least one thing at work
- Forty percent of workers report their jobs to be very or extremely stressful
- A little more than 1/3 of employees are considered financially literate
- One in three workers are distracted at work because of money, and
- Money is a major pain point for 80 percent of workers
It’s evident your staff is feeling stressed both because of work and finances. But the question remains, how can your business help your stressed-out employees? Well keep reading, and we’ll let you know. In this article, we’ll tell you why your employees are stressed, what effects this stress has on them and your business, and how you can promote better stress management at work.
Why your employees are feeling stressed
As previously mentioned, two primary factors are influencing your employees’ stress levels. These factors are work and finances. Multiple work stressors can harm both your employees mental and physical health. Burnout (which is now an official diagnosis from the World Health Organization), a bad boss, a negative culture are all potential workplace stressors. Similarly, poor pay, a lack of quality retirement benefits, and financial illiteracy are all potential financial stressors.
What Effects Does This Stress Have on Business?
We’ve already detailed the adverse effects stress is having on your employees, but how does it affect your company? Well, there are several ways both financial and workplace stress can wreak havoc on your business as a whole. The first adverse impact of financial stress occurs due to a lack of retirement savings for your employees.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, almost half of Americans have $0 saved in a 401(k) or another individual account. And, an estimated 29 percent of older Americans had neither a pension nor any assets in a 401(k) or IRA account. When workers don’t save, they’re pushed to delay their retirement. As older workers push back retirement, it stops younger employees from joining the workforce. This halt on an influx of younger staff costs your business as older workers tend to cost more in both salary and healthcare expenses.
Additionally, financial stress can make your employees unhealthier. Per a survey by the American Psychological Association, around 32 percent of Americans said issues with money prevent them from living a healthy lifestyle. Financial stress, and stress in general, has been linked to:
- An increase in chronic diseases
- Gum disease
- Heart attacks and higher blood pressure
- Weight gain, and
- A weakened immune system
Plus, an estimated 60 – 80 percent of accidents on the job are due to stress-related distractions or sleepiness. All told, employers spend over $300 billion annually for healthcare and missed work days as a result of workplace stress alone. This number shows how much stress can negatively impact both your healthcare expenses and workplace productivity.
How to Promote Stress Management
As an employer, there is a multitude of actions you can take to improve the amount of stress in your employees’ lives. To decrease employee stress try using one, or all, of the following methods to lessen the impact of workplace and financial stress on your staff.
1. A Quality Boss
One of the most significant causes of workplaces stress is a poor boss or manager. According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores. This statistic demonstrates the power of a poor manager when it comes to stressed out or disengaged employees.
A lousy boss also has similar adverse effects on retention rates and employee health. Per the Gallup survey, one in two employees have left a good job to get away from a bad manager, supervisor, or overall negative workplace. And, a study by Science Daily detailed how a poor boss can worsen your staff’s health.
People who work for bosses who display psychopathic or narcissistic traits feel more depressed and are more likely to engage in undesirable behaviors at work. Additionally, researchers have found working for a bad boss was more of a risk factor for heart disease than smoking, lack of exercise, or being overweight.
2. A Positive Culture
Another means to combat workplace stress is to establish a positive workplace culture. A positive culture is so essential to the success of your business because it aligns employee and employer values and:
- Attracts talent
- Drives employee engagement and retention
- Impacts employee happiness and satisfaction
- Affects employee productivity
3. Retirement Assistance
The first method to battle against employee’s financial stress is to implement a quality retirement program. This program should include some defined benefit or contribution plan. But this plan must include more assistance. Some popular features such as automatic enrollment or escalation help to increase the amount of money employees put into their retirement account.
And if you’re hesitant to implement these features due to perceived intrusiveness, don’t be. A 2018 JP Morgan survey found 80 to 82 percent of participants are either in favor of or neutral toward both auto-enrollment and auto-escalation, respectively.
4. Financial Wellness & Literacy
Another means of fighting financial stress is through a financial wellness plan that includes a financial literacy program. A financial literacy component is essential to the success of any financial wellness plan because financial literacy has a real impact on the lives of your staff.
Per the National Bureau of Economic Research, one-third of the world’s income inequality could be accounted for by disparities in financial knowledge. And, chances are your employees aren’t as knowledgeable as they should be when it comes to finances. A recent FINRA Foundation study found two-thirds of Americans would fail a financial literacy test.
5. Student Loan Repayment
One benefit your firm can use to battle financial stress among your employees is a student loan repayment plan. Americans, as of 2019, have accumulated more than $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. So, the average college graduate today owes around $30,000.
A student loan repayment plan is especially relevant to younger employees, who are more likely to have college debt. Educational debt represents the largest portion of the average millennial’s total debt. And this debt is so oppressive, 1 in 5 millennials with debt expect to die without ever paying it off. A student loan repayment plan can help these employees escape their crushing debt, and, in turn, relieve some of their financial stress.
6. Health Insurance
When it comes to addressing financial stress in your employees, health insurance is as vital a benefit as any. Healthcare expenses in the U.S. are on a continual rise. In 2015, U.S. healthcare costs totaled $3.2 trillion, which translates to an average of $9,990 a year, per person. And these costs are weighing on your employees.
A 2017 Fractl survey reinforced this idea. The survey found 88 percent of employees would give at least some consideration to a company’s health insurance when deciding between a higher-paying job, and one that was lower-paying but had better benefits. Similarly, a recent MetLife study discovered 61 percent of employees who said they were “very satisfied” with their company were satisfied because of their health benefits.
7. Use Your Emotions
Most financial behavior, according to financial psychologists, is driven by emotions, not rational thought. We have a complicated relationship with money, and it’s one that is often rife with guilt, shame, fear, and envy. So, when designing your financial wellness program, make sure to integrate behavior-change theories rooted in psychology, such as gamification.
Your employees are stressed. It’s not an opinion; it’s a fact. And no matter what you do, you’ll never completely eliminate it or its effects. But, as an employer, there’s plenty you can do to promote stress management at work and lessen the amount and the impact of stress on your staff. Use these seven methods to make stress matter less in your employee’s lives.