Half of Canadians say financial stress is affecting workplace performance: survey

Nearly half (46 per cent) of Canadian employees said financial stress is impacting their workplace performance, according to a new survey by the Canadian Payroll Association.

The survey also found that Canadian employees are more concerned with work-life balance (33 per cent) than they are with earning higher wages (26 per cent). This is especially true of millennials, with 38 per cent ranking work-life balance as most important.

However, when asked about the best way to improve their financial well-being, the top answer among all respondents was higher wages (25 per cent) versus spending less (19 per cent). And while 72 per cent said they’ve only saved a quarter or less of what they feel they’ll need to retire, the average target retirement age of 61 hasn’t changed since last year’s survey.

Read: Just 7% of Canadians call retirement savings a priority in 2018: survey

The survey also found 66 per cent of working Canadians believe they’re in a better financial position than a year ago, but they also said their debt levels remain high and they’re still not saving enough for retirement. Some 44 per cent of respondents said it would be challenging to meet their financial obligations if their paycheque was delayed by even a single week. Generation X-ers reported the highest level of difficulty, at 47 per cent. One in five working Canadians said they couldn’t come up with just $2,000 within a month for an emergency expense.

While 69 per cent of respondents who said they’re trying to save more have been able to do so, 65 per cent said they save 10 per cent or less of their earnings.

One reason is that debt levels among working Canadians are on the rise. Forty per cent of respondents said they feel overwhelmed by their level of debt, compared to 35 per cent last year. More than one-third (34 per cent) said their debt load increased over the year, up from 31 per cent. And more are expecting to take longer to pay down that debt — 43 per cent said it will take more than 10 years, up from 42 per cent in 2017 and 36 per cent in 2016. And 12 per cent of respondents said they believe they’ll never be debt free. 

Read: Majority of Canadians worried about level of retirement savings: survey

“We would have hoped to see in the survey results that Canadians would do more to alleviate their debt and take control of their financial situation in strong economic times,” says Peter Tzanetakis, president of the Canadian Payroll Association, in a press release. “Now is the time to pay down debt, contribute to retirement savings and take control of your financial future. Many Canadians seem to be complacent and are still not focused on the big picture.”