As the economy continues to improve, it’s easy to overlook the fact that financial pressure is still a major stressor for many working Americans. According to new CareerBuilder research, more than three-quarters of workers (78 percent) are living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, 25 percent have not been able to make ends meet every month in the last year, and 20 percent have missed payment on some smaller bills.
Further, 71 percent of all workers say they’re in debt, and while 46 percent say their debt is manageable, more than half of those in debt (56 percent) say they feel they will always be in debt. And it should be noted that 18 percent of all workers have reduced their 401k contribution and/or personal savings in the last year, more than a third (38 percent) do not participate in a 401k plan, IRA or comparable retirement plan, and 26 percent have not set aside any savings each month in the last year.
What Does This Mean For You?
When employees are stressed financially, their health and productivity can both suffer. And while many claim to be experts at multitasking, if employees are focused on their financial problems, they are less focused on the business. Fortunately, organizations can ease some of that stress by helping employees manage their personal finances and provide non-monetary benefits to ease some financial burdens.
While employers are not always able to raise wages, many have found ways to offer additional perks or benefits that can help employees who are struggling. At the end of the day, HR wants to be a partner with employees, so listening to their needs and trying to tailor benefits goes a long way. Here are a few other things employers can do to help employees be more financially stable:
Encourage a culture that welcomes financial conversations: As a leader, it’s important to think about how you can foster a culture of conversation when it comes to money. Aside from encouraging employees to take advantage of the financial advice available to them, you could, for example, share educational content or set up financial workshops or other expert-driven programs where employees can feel free to ask questions in person.
Make an EAP a benefit: Employee assistance programs help connect your employees with services they need. You can either pay for a referral system or pay for initial consultation meetings with financial planners, attorneys or mental health experts. Giving employees these resources gives them a place to start when seeking professional help and eases a large part of the financial burden associated with these resources.
Provide onsite childcare: Providing parents with reliable, safe and convenient child care allows them to bring their young children to work, spend lunch and breaks together, check in on them and leave together at the end of the work day. It gives employees peace of mind and saves them a lot of money, which makes it an effective recruiting tool and job satisfaction driver for working parents.
Allow employees to telecommute: Do your employees have jobs or responsibilities that they could easily perform from home? If so, why not let them telecommute? Even one day every week of being able to work from home can have a dramatic impact on an employee’s attitude and motivation.
Employees love it, because it reduces expenses for childcare and gas, and allows them to spend more time with their families. If you absolutely cannot be without your employees on a weekly basis, consider giving them the option to work from home on occasion, whether it’s every other Friday or on an as-needed basis.
Offer educational assistance: The rising costs of college tuition can cause problems both at work and at home. Employers who assist their employees’ dependents to pay for college will find their workforce is more motivated and less stressed.
Recent research sheds light on how recruiting and compensation practices can enhance team performance.