Money woes affecting employee engagement

by Nurhuda Syed14 Apr 2018

Employees in Asia Pacific are deeply concerned about their financial security, negatively impacting their personal and work lives, found a survey by Willis Towers Watson.

A fifth of all employees in Asia Pacific now believe their financial concerns are negatively impacting their lives. In addition, more than two in five (42%) worry about their future financial state.

A similar percentage (41%) said their financial security has become a more important issue for them in the last two to three years.

The survey findings demonstrate clearly how financial pressures correlate with stress, poorer health and lower engagement at work, all of which impact productivity or creates higher levels of staff turnover.

“The ongoing financial worries that are troubling so many employees are taking a toll on their financial confidence,” said Jeff Howatt, head of retirement, Asia at Willis Towers Watson.

“The negative impacts are not only on the personal lives of employees – both physically and mentally – but also on their behaviour at work, particularly their productivity and engagement.”

This is especially true among “struggling” employees (13%), identified in the research as those worried about their short- and long-term finances.

Half of these struggling employees said money concerns were keeping them from doing their best at work. Higher levels of absenteeism were found among this group.

Additionally, almost three in four struggling employees reported above average or high stress levels, while more than two in five described their health as poor.

Only around one in four of these employees were fully engaged at work compared with nearly half of employees without any worries.

Employers also understand the huge impact of financial worries on their employees. 58% of employers think they should take an active role in encouraging their employees to manage their personal finances better, according to another study by the company.

“While employers understand the impact, the challenge is how to provide the right sort of support – neither too superficial nor intrusive,” Howatt said.

Given that almost half of employees (45%) would like their employers to offer tools that provide suggestions on how they can improve their financial situation, finding the right solutions can be highly rewarding on all fronts.

“As a starting point, employers should identify and focus on the workforce segments struggling financially. Then they should communicate with their employees to try to understand their future outlook and barriers,” Howatt added.

“In this process, it is important for employers to note how financial vulnerabilities differ across the workforce – a young millennial still trying to pay off student debt has very different needs compared with a baby boomer who is trying to save for retirement.”

 

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