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When employees are financially stressed, they’re distracted and less productive at work and more likely to leave their jobs, according to a new survey by the Canadian Payroll Association.

Though the survey found personal finances have improved for many Canadians in 2020 and 2021, 30 per cent of respondents who indicated they experience financial stress said it decreased their motivation at work and 16 per cent said it drove them to look for a new job.

Read: Canadians becoming more optimistic about finances, retirement savings: survey

Lower work-related expenses is playing a role in the improvement of personal finances, according to 51 per cent of respondents, while 72 per cent identified spending less on discretionary expenses as a key factor. Only 36 per cent of respondents said they’re living paycheque to paycheque — the fewest in the past 13 years — and 71 per cent said they now spend less than their net pay in a typical pay period, an all-time high and an increase of 11 per cent since 2019.

“When it comes to financial wellness, this moment between the ‘COVID reality’ and ‘new normal’ is a critical tipping point for Canadians,” said Peter Tzanetakis, president of the association, in a press release. “If some of the behaviours forced upon us during lockdown aren’t transformed into habits – and our survey shows for many, they won’t be – working Canadians may once again be faced with the stresses of mounting debt and living paycheque to paycheque.”