Workers Worry About Money Today, Not Retirement Tomorrow

What causes the average Joe stress at work?

Work, right? 

Or maybe something about work – a bad boss, poor working conditions, toxic co-workers or maybe just Facebook being blocked on their work computer (“dang IT guys!”).

Each year international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) sponsors an Employee Financial Wellness Survey. Their 2020 survey asked employees, “Which of the following causes you the most stress?” The answers were interesting.

“My job” said 18% of respondents.

“Health concerns” said 11%.

“Relationships” said 12%

“Other” said 5%.

But guess what the number one cause of stress was?

“Financial or money matters / challenges.” Well, that’s probably because of the economic disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, right?

Yet in their 2019 survey, done over a year before the pandemic, PcW wrote, “With reports indicating a solid economy and a jobless rate at a 49-year low, one would presume we’d see less stress among U.S. employees. However, this year’s survey shows quite the opposite, with more employees than ever admitting to being stressed about their finances. When asked what they feel causes them the most stress, more employees cite financial matters than any other life stressor combined.”

Digging a little deeper, PwC asked employees, “What does financial wellness mean to you?” 

Fully one third of employees simply said, “not being stressed about finances.” The rest of the answers were split rather evenly between “being debt free,” “having enough savings,” “free to make choices,” and “being able to meet monthly expenses.”

What about “being able to retire when I want to?” That only got 4% of the votes. 

So, we see that employees (pre and post COVID-19) are stressed about money more than any other issue at work. And their money worries are all very short term in nature – debt, savings, spending and emergencies.

Curiously, what do most employers offer as one of their main perks to entice good employees to come with and stay with them? 

A retirement plan. The thing only 4% of employees said was their top priority.

Employees in the PwC survey said the employee benefit they would most like to see added in the future is “financial wellness benefit.”

Most employers’ largest expense is their employees – by a long shot. And rightly so. The right employees can add tremendous value to the enterprise they serve. 

Yet these same value-creating employees are telling their employer that their largest corporate expense is (a) being mismanaged and (b) causing stress and distraction among your key value creators. 

According to the PwC survey, “the differences in financial well-being are striking in employees who say they’re stressed about their finances versus those who say they aren’t feeling stress. Stressed employees are more likely to carry credit card balances and nearly four times as likely to have difficulty making minimum payments. They are nearly five times as likely to say their finances have been a distraction at work.”

If you’re an employer, do you want to be a hero to your best employees? Provide them with a meaningful financial wellness benefit that will help them solve their pressing financial problems, reduce their stress levels and enable them to pour more of their energies into the jobs you hired them to do.

If you’re an employee who wishes her employer-provided a financial wellness benefit, give your boss a copy of this column, or the PwC survey itself. 

Money doesn’t have to be the most stressful part of your work.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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