The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently issued the results of its 2014 survey, Financial Wellness in the Workplace, which asked 400 HR managers about employees’ financial attitudes and challenges.
Seventy percent of HR managers said that employees worrying about money were impacting job performance and productivity in the office. As for what, specifically, was troubling workers, over 40% of survey respondents said that a general inability to cover personal expenses was causing stress. And nearly 40% said that their company’s employees were struggling financially now more than they were when the economy went into recession in 2007.
When asked whether employees were facing more money challenges now as compared to one year ago, 25% of HR managers said that they were.
One way HR personnel know that employees are facing financial troubles is when they ask to take out a loan against their retirement savings or request a hardship withdrawal from retirement funds. In the past year, respondents said 60% of the employees they supervise had asked to take out a loan, and 44% had requested hardship withdrawals.
Financial wellness workshops help, but are costly
To help employees better deal with financial stress, many companies strive to provide education programs with the goal of teaching workers financial wellness principles. But such programs cost money to run, and some companies feel they cannot afford such an expense. They are worth the money, say finance experts. Shawn Gilfedder, CEO of McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union, which sponsored the SHRM study, said, "Companies can and should take action to help employees effectively address their financial concerns, which will help improve the lives of workers and their families and also help strengthen company performance.”
HR workers thought that if their companies offered financial wellness education, Baby Boomers would be the most likely to participate, at a rate of 70%, followed by Generation X, at an anticipated rate of 53%.
When it comes to retirement planning seminars, HR folks thought 77% of Baby Boomers would be eager to participate in such an event, compared to 44% of Generation X workers—for whom retirement is further in the future.
Gilfeddersays that if companies offer financial education, they will reap the rewards. Reducing employee stress, higher employee loyalty retention and greater company productivity are the main benefits of financial wellness education.
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