‘Financial wellness’ the key to improving productivity

A third (34%) of employees have financial concerns that are distracting them at work

‘Financial wellness’ could be the key to improving employee productivity, according to a report from MetLife.

The Power of Employee Benefits in an Uncertain World found that a third (34%) of employees have financial concerns that are distracting them at work. More than two-fifths (42%) said they have limited time to do the research required to make financial decisions for themselves and their family. Among millennials (here defined as those under 30) this statistic rises to 62%.

Almost four in 10 (39%) of those polled admitted they live payday to payday; a marked increase from 2015 when only 24% agreed with that statement. Once again those under 30 fared worse than average in 2017, with half (50%) stuck in the paycheque to paycheque cycle.

The desire for financial counselling, to help employees reach ‘financial wellbeing’, to be offered as an employee benefit has increased since the last survey, with 53% of staff now claiming to be interested compared to 42% two years ago.

The researchers defined ‘financial wellness’ as having control over day-to-day and month-to-month finances and the capacity to absorb a financial shock, rather than being rich or debt-free.

The report cites a study by Warwick University that found happy employees are 12% more productive. If a financial wellness scheme could help people handle their finances better they may be less distracted and more engaged at work, MetLife suggests.

Maria Morris, MetLife’s global head of employee benefits, told HR magazine that more employers understand the impact of financial worries on their employees. “We see a definite trend of linking general wellbeing and productivity with financial wellness,” she said. “In 2015 only 38% of employers said they understood personal financial pressures on their staff, compared to 52% in our latest report.

“The two most effective things employers can offer is committing to bringing more certainty to their employees when it comes to financial pressure, and giving financial wellness prominence in your overall wellbeing strategy.”