Get expert advice delivered straight to your inbox.

Skip to Main Content

Is Employee Financial Stress Hurting My Business?

We’ve all seen reports about increasing levels of anxiety, low motivation and burnout. But have you ever thought that the people struggling with those issues are the same people who are showing up to work at your business?

We’re not talking about a few employees just having a bad day. These are heavy burdens that really take a toll on how your employees perform at work—and most of these problems are rooted in financial stress.

Let’s dig into what’s causing your employees’ financial stress and what employers can do to turn this trend around.

What Is Employee Financial Stress?

Financial stress is when a person is consumed with worry, anxiety and fear about their financial situation. Employees can suffer from financial stress when they don’t feel in control of their money.

Results from the 2022 SmartDollar Employee Benefits Study show that over half of employees worry about their personal finances daily. And employers are seeing this in workplaces across the country. Nearly 50% of employees say financial stress impacts their mental health and their ability to do their job.1

Why is all of this happening at once? There are plenty of reasons. For starters, 25% of your employees are struggling financially, and 56% feel like they’re drowning and can’t get ahead of their financial situation.2

That’s a lot of financial stress affecting your employees and your business. This kind of stress is serious and affects an employee’s ability to do their job well. So, what does it look like when your employees are stressed about their finances?

What Does Employee Financial Stress Look Like in the Workplace?

Employees often show their financial stress by missing days at work. According to the 2022 SmartDollar Employee Benefits Study, 36% of employees have missed work due to a financial problem. They’re also more easily distracted and unable to focus on their job, which can affect workplace productivity.

Lack of sleep is another huge problem for people struggling with their money. The 2022 SmartDollar Employee Benefits Study also found that nearly half of employees are losing sleep over their financial stress. When employees aren’t sleeping, they’re not actively engaged at work. And if they’re not actively engaged at work, they can’t help the business grow. Do you see where this is going? Lack of sleep means your business makes less money.

Distracted employees aren’t doing your business any good. But it’s easy to understand that it’s hard to focus when you feel like your financial life is crumbling around you. An employee’s financial pressure affects their focus—in fact, 45% of employees are distracted by their financial problems while at work.3

But as their employer, you can help your employees turn their financial outlook around and relieve their financial stress.

The Business Cost of Employee Stress

We’ve already talked about how financial stress affects your employees (like missed days, distractions and insomnia), but what does all that mean for your business’s bottom line?

Around 36% of employees miss work due to financial problems but still get paid—that’s a 36% hit to your company’s productivity levels—all because of financial stress.

Here’s another way to think about it: If you have 100 employees and 36% of them miss one day of work due to financial stress, that’s 36 workdays down the drain.

Still not real enough? The average weekly income in Q3 of 2022 for wage and salaried workers was $1,070.4 At $214 a day for 36 days, that’s nearly $7,700 in payroll without any productivity to show for it. And these numbers don’t include employees who miss multiple days because of financial stress. That’s a lot of money and missed work!


Click here for free, SHRM-accredited webinar content on all things HR and business leadership.

No financial advisor worth their salt would recommend this business structure—and yet thousands of companies are doing it every single day.

Your business is losing a lot of money because your employees are struggling. They’re drowning in debt and fighting for financial stability. It’s time to support your employees as they work through their financial struggles.

What Do Your Employees Want From You?

By now it’s clear that employee financial stress hurts your business. So, how can you put a stop to it?

Listen to your employees!

According to the 2022 SmartDollar Employee Benefits Study, 24% of employees don’t think their employer cares about their financial health at all. If you’re here reading this, that means you do care about your employees, which is an important first step.

The next step is to show your employees you care. Because the cold hard truth is, ignored employees become former employees.

If you’re part of the 79% of employers who understand that their employees’ personal financial problems negatively affect their work, it’s time to make a change.5

So, what’s the answer? Financial wellness benefits.

Financial wellness is when you take control of your money so it doesn’t take control of you. And that’s exactly what your employees are crying out for.

Get this: Nearly 80% of employees say a financial wellness benefit is an important part of a comprehensive benefits package. That’s a whole lot of people looking for your help!

When employers add financial wellness packages to their benefits, they can see an immediate uptick in morale. The 2022 SmartDollar Employee Benefits Study found that over 80% of employers who offer a financial wellness benefit to their employees describe their morale as great—the tell-tale sign of a successful benefit.

So, you know what that means, right? Less stress equals fewer missed days—so you’re not paying absent people anymore, and you’re helping your employees improve their financial future!

Keep Learning About Employee Financial Wellness

Financial wellness benefits like SmartDollar are the answer to employee financial stress. People will always get stressed out about money, but you can give them hope.

When you give your employees access to training, coaching and a step-by-step plan to help them square away their finances, they’ll show up to work happy and stay focused.

Ready to learn more about the different types of financial wellness benefits? Great news! SmartDollar has tons of information about employee financial wellness so you can make the best decision for your employees.

Did you find this article helpful? Share it!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

Related Articles

An image of a woman on a laptop viewing a website and titled why financial wellness is essential.

Why Financial Wellness is Essential to Your Company's Employee Benefits Package

Financial wellness is essential for companies that want to offer a benefit that helps the long-term financial futures of their employees and their company’s bottom line at the same time.

Ramsey Ramsey