The Impact of Financial Stress in the Workplace (and What Employers Can to Do to Help)

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When I start to write about financial stress, I get a little flutter in my gut. That feeling of troubled past but still remembered. A feeling most people are very familiar with. According to the American Psychological Association, financial stress is the number one stressor for Americans with 72% of people reporting anxiety around their finances. This stress is taking a huge toll on our physical and mental health. And its impacts are showing up more in the workplace as inflation and interest rates increase and a recession looks more and more likely. In order to create happier, healthier workplaces, it’s imperative that we understand the effect financial stress is having and build solutions to help our teams thrive.

The Impact of Employee Financial Stress

Let’s look at the three primary impacts financial stress has in the workplace: 

  • Decreased productivity 
  • Increased absenteeism  
  • Lower levels of engagement 

Financial stress has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, migraines, sleep problems, depression and anxiety (and more). These physical and mental health issues understandably impact an individuals’ ability to show up, focus and engage at work. I sometimes hear people describe financial stress as a cloud or fog that comes over them regularly. They can be in the middle of a meeting or cooking dinner when the fog descends. It lowers their ability to focus, interact and make decisions. Countless clients have told us stories of sleep deprivation due to financial worries, a vicious cycle that compounds stress and its workplace impacts. Ultimately, a financially stressed employee has less space to give to their job—despite how passionate or skilled they may be.  

Employers are in a unique position to help build financial health in this country, to the benefit of their workforce and their bottom line. Right now, financial wellness benefits are the most requested benefit. Employees, particularly younger employees, are attracted to companies who prioritize and support financial health. So, what can employers do to help decrease employee financial stress in the workplace and build a culture of financial health? 

1. Create a Dialogue Around Financial Health 

Empathy and support go a long way. If your employees know you care about and support their financial health, they are likely to overcome the shame and guilt they are feeling and engage in the programs you offer. It’s important that leadership and HR teams understand the importance of financial health and are committed to a culture that supports employees as they navigate financial stress.  

2. Provide Financial Education Tools/Resources 

Many people don’t know where to turn when they are experiencing financial stress. There is a real stigma attached to talking about finances. We often only learn from our parents or other adults in our lives who may or may not be teaching the right lessons. It’s important that employees have access to trusted financial education tools and resources. This can include information on the key personal finance topics such as:  

  • Creating a spending plan/budget 
  • Understanding credit reports and scores 
  • Managing debt 
  • Saving for the future 
  • Understanding and accessing employee benefits 
  • Offer access to financial counseling and coaching services 


One of the most impactful ways to help financially stressed employees is to support financial counseling and coaching services. These services allow them to connect with trusted experts about their unique financial concerns and goals. Financial coaching has been shown to increase feelings of financial confidence and well-being while also improving financial health indicators in the areas of savings and credit among others. Knowing you have expert support on your financial journey can immediately decrease stress and worry.  

Now more than ever, it’s wise to acknowledge the impact of financial stress on our teams and take action. Building a culture of financial health can help create a workplace that thrives. If you are interested in learning more about Apprisen’s Employer Financial Wellness offerings, please feel free to reach out.   

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