The Link Between Employee Productivity, Health, and Financial Stress

Insight By
Mike Iley
Retirement Plans

If you think financial wellness programs are a fad, think again. The consensus is that financial wellness not only produces results for employees, but it positively influences company bottom lines.  

A recent study (pre-COVID-19) found that nearly 60% of respondents listed financial matters as the top cause of stress. Additionally, they found that 35% of employees report issues with personal finances have been a distraction at work. [1]

Causes of financial stress vary by generation, with Millennials and Gen X’ers citing their main stressor as not having enough emergency savings and, not surprisingly, the biggest financial worry for Baby Boomers is not being able to retire when they want.  

The link between stress and employee productivity is real; experts estimate that it costs companies $500 billion or more a year due to “health costs, absenteeism and poor performance”. [2] More specifically, university research reported: [3]

  • 40% of job turnover is due to stress. Replacing an average employee costs 120-200% of the salary of the position affected.
  • Healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, financial stress can increase healthcare costs by about $400 per stressed employee annually.
  • The average cost of absenteeism in a large company is more than $3.6 million/year.  

By implementing a financial wellness program, your company can help its employees tackle these issues head on, which in turn may help reduce these issues and expenditures.

Expert and renowned personal finance professor, E. Thomas Garman, has stated that incorporating a financial wellness benefit to “reduce the costs associated with financial stress by even 3%-5% can improve a company’s bottom line simply through cost avoidance.” [4]

Another insight comes from Liz Davidson, CEO of Financial Finesse, who said that quantifying ROI with financial wellness wasn’t a slam dunk initially. [5]

“CFOs who look at financial wellness through a narrow lens struggle with the fact that there is no line item on the income statement that shows increased revenue or reduced costs as a result of a financially healthy workforce. Financial wellness has a measurable financial impact but can be hard to measure.”  

Davidson and her team set out to research - and measure - the impact of financial wellness by conducting a case study of a Fortune 100 company’s comprehensive workplace financial wellness program from 2009 to 2014. [6] They focused on a few tangible and trackable elements (garnishments, flexible spending/health savings accounts and absenteeism) and then measured the change in employee financial wellness scores on a specialized 0 to 10 point scale.  

As the median employee financial health scores went up, the costs to the company diminished, resulting in a measurable bottom-line impact.

“The correlation was so strong,” says Davidson. “For every point increase on the employee wellness scale, there was a direct financial savings per employee for the company.”

Davidson adds that the trackable elements only represent 5 to 10 % of what a financial wellness program involves. She and her team are working to add elements to their ROI model, including measuring the wellness program impact on healthcare costs, delayed retirements and employee turnover.  

Translation: companies could benefit even more financially when you take into consideration the overall program.

While financial wellness programs may have started out as a feel-good benefit, they have quickly become significant contributors to employee well-being and a retention tool with a much-needed impact on the bottom line.  

And that’s just good business all around.  

Insight By
Mike Iley
Managing Director
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Retirement Plans
Published on

May 7, 2020

updated on

May 7, 2020


This article is for educational purposes only. The tax and legal references attached herein are designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered and are provided with the understanding that LoVasco Consulting Group is not engaged in rendering tax or legal services. If tax or legal advice is required, you should consult your accountant or attorney. LoVasco Consulting Group does not replace those advisors.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through M Holdings Securities, Inc., a registered broker dealer and Investment Advisor, member FINRA / SIPC. LoVasco Consulting Group is independently owned and operated.

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