Is personal financial stress playing havoc with productivity and staff retention?

Written by Topco Staff Writer


Financial stress impacts a person’s overall health, making them more anxious, irritable and fatigued due to a lack of sleep.

Mike* was loved by his colleagues. He was a good team worker, often went the extra mile and seemed to be energized by his work. His manager was shocked when Mike handed in his resignation and wondered whether this sudden decision was related to not being able to give him the raise he’d asked for a few months ago.

Losing Mike was a huge blow to the team. He’d been handling some key projects and it took months to find his replacement. What Mike was unable to tell his manager, was that he really didn’t want to leave either.

He felt embarrassed that his current financial situation made him feel like he had limited options. One financial mistake (opting for the balloon payment option on his car finance) led to another (trading in his vehicle for a new model). When he faced a series of unexpected emergency costs, Mike felt like he facing a financial avalanche. He decided to resign from his job to access his pension fund, as he felt this was his only way out of this financial crisis.

There are many others like Mike, who live one paycheck away from disaster. (South Africans current household debt is currently 73% of gross income). We can’t separate who we are from what we do.  The consequences of poor personal finance management impacts on an individual’s professional life.

Effects of financial stress on productivity

Despite the plethora of financial information available, the application of sound financial habits is not as common. Research indicates that one of the primary causes of disengagement in the workplace is financial stress.

Financial stress impacts a person’s overall health, making them more anxious, irritable and fatigued due to a lack of sleep. This leads to lower productivity (also because they are likely to use company time to deal with issues that arise), impaired ability to solve problems and poor communication with colleagues and clients.

Financial literacy training programmes, which can easily be tailored to be delivered online, will serve to support your employees manage an aspect of their lives that many feel they aren’t able to get a handle on. This is particularly relevant during experiencing times of global financial crises.

Financial mastery training helps your team to:

  • Improve their current relationship with money: Talking about money has been taboo for decades. Everyone just assumes that others are better off than they are – and are managing their money better than they are.

There are various aspects that are involved in someone’s relationship with money: the learned experiences from primary caregivers, the influence of their unique personalities, the culture and social context in which they currently live. You will need to find programmes that facilitate learning by helping employees to identify and address the hidden blindspots in their relationship with money.

  • Develop accountability: Financial stress often causes people to fall into the blame game. “If only my company paid me more… if only I inherited money from a rich relative…, then my financial worries would be over.”

Holistic financial training programmes will help employees to develop an internal locus of control and empower them to take accountability for their actions. Most people often have an ostrich approach (sticking their head in the ground) when it comes to money management. However, once they are assisted to write things down in black and white, the situation suddenly seems less dire and more manageable.

  • Manage their money better: Most people believe that the answer to their money struggles is to simply have more. We’ve not really taught how to budget, how to plan, how to reflect on expenses, how to save – from what we have.

Once people learn how to manage what they have, they develop a new appreciation of their current income levels. Feeling equipped to manage their money creates a feeling of empowerment, rather than disempowerment. It’s an important step towards feeling in control in an area where they once felt helpless.

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the nature of business: There is sometimes a disconnect with employees on how their current role adds to the bottom line of the organisation they’ve working for. Once they gain a deeper understanding of how income is generated – for themselves and their organisation, they begin to see themselves as a crucial link in the value chain.

Finding the right financial training programme for your organisation will involve an assessment of the current financial mastery levels within your team. Outsourcing to a third party service provider will be the best option to tackle sensitive financial education, as they will be able to facilitate learning independent of prevailing organisational culture dynamics.

For employees like Mike, who are facing pressing financial stresses, financial mastery education will provide them with the tools they need to live an avalanche free life. And remain part of a productive team.

Cheryl Benadie

Managing Director

Whole Person Academy

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