Poor financial well-being is a growing problem, impacting Canadian employees’ on-the-job performance, health and absenteeism rates, according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson.

Its survey found that 23 per cent of respondents identified themselves as struggling. Among that group, almost half said that worries about finances were preventing them from performing their best at work.

More than 70 per cent of this group also reported higher than average stress, while 33 per cent said their health was poor and the rates of absenteeism were higher among struggling employees. Among the employees without financial concerns, only 36 per cent said they were more stressed than average and 14 per cent categorized their health as poor.

Read: Financial woes distracting Canadians at work: survey

Additionally, 78 per cent of the struggling group said they’re living pay cheque to pay cheque, versus 40 per cent of the total respondents. More than half (52 per cent) of those who are struggling and over age 50 said they don’t expect to retire until their 70s. Comparatively, just 14 per cent of those without money concerns felt the same way.

Presenteeism is also an issue, with 29 per cent of the struggling group reporting they’re fully engaged at work compared to 42 per cent of employees without money concerns.

“Employers understand that financial worries, which are linked to stress, can have a negative impact on their employees’ personal and work lives.” said Wendy Poirier, Canadian health and group benefits growth leader at Willis Towers Watson, in a news release.

She noted there are a number of services and programs available for employers to offer to staff around personal financial issues. “The research provides powerful clues as to why many of these approaches are under-utilized and how we can do better.” 

Read: Just one-fifth of employers have formal strategy around employee financial wellness

The survey also found that fewer than half of respondents feel satisfied with their financial situation in 2017, compared to 55 per cent who said the same in 2015. About a third (30 per cent) believe financial worries are negatively affecting their life. And 53 per cent of respondents are worried about their future financial footing.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of survey respondents said they’d like their employers to provide tools and advice on how to improve their financial life, but 57 per cent believe it’s not an employer’s place to send personalized messages to employees facing important decisions regarding their finances.

“While employees are eager for their employers to provide support and technology, they are wary of personalized outreach,” said Poirier.“The takeaway for employers is that they need to gauge the extent to which they have permission to take a more active role in employees’ personal financial well-being. Workers are saying there is a distinct line between personalized tools where the interaction is controlled by the employee, and personalized messages that can seem intrusive.” 

Additional findings indicate that confidence about retirement funding has dropped since 2015, with 52 per cent believing they’ll be able to live comfortably for 25 years of retirement.

Read: Half of Canadians expect to work longer than planned as retirement savings fall short

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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