Financial stress alone can be debilitating, making it difficult to concentrate on work and other daily requirements. But when both workplace stress and financial concerns coalesce, getting through the workday becomes a Sisyphean task.
There’s a reason why debt is causing Canadians a few ulcers; according to credit agency Equifax Canada, it hit a record $1.422 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2013.
How to Know When You’ve Had Enough
Walking around with a pit in your stomach is no way to live – if this is how you feel, it may be time to talk to a counselor, or address your financial stress with an advisor.
Key physical indicators include insomnia, an inability to concentrate, bouts of depression and adverse emotional reactions like irritability and anger. These emotions can make even the most menial tasks difficult to accomplish.
When Stress Affects the Bottom Line
The compounding effects of workplace and financial stress have grown to the point where employers are starting to take notice.
A recent study put together by Toronto-based Employee Financial Well-Being – a company focused on providing financial education to employees in the workplace – found that of 608 employees at Canadian companies with more than 50 employees, one in four are financially distressed. They also found dealing with personal finances is eating up more than an hour of each working day.
Struggling in the Present
For employers, presenteeism – being present in the workplace physically but mentally off in la-la land – can mean unproductive staff, missed deadlines and sub-par work ethic.
But Frank Wiginton, CEO of Employee Financial Well-Being, believes the key to bucking those trends lies in bolstering financial literacy services as part of the customary wellness packages usually offered like gym memberships and employee counseling.
“It’s about time that employee wellness dealt with issues that matter most to employees,” Wiginton told The Insurance and Investment Journal. “People under financial stress are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety, heart attacks, ulcers, digestive track problems and migraines.”
Employers Need to Turn it Around
According to a survey by the Employee Financial Education Division, employers are starting to take notice with half of employees saying the companies they work offer education to boost their financial literacy. Counselors and financial advisors can help educate employees how to live within their budgets, set aside an adequate amount for retirement and handle mortgages.
“Employers can play a proactive role by providing financial literacy education in the workplace to teach employees the skills needed to tackle their debt loads,” says Doug Jones, senior vice president and trustee of BDO Canada Limited, an organization geared towards helping Ontarians with their debt. “When the money issues become manageable then the employee’s stress level will reduce and they will be more productive in the workplace – it is a win-win for everyone.”
That is, if employees can gain the confidence to admit they need help.