AMP’s annual Financial Wellness report has found there are currently 2.44 million Australians suffering from financial stress. This stress is having a significant impact on the economy, costing Australian businesses an estimated $31.1billon per year in lost revenue.
Two in five Australian workers admitted feeling financial stress, with 24 per cent of women admitting to being impacted by financial stress compared with 14 per cent of men.
According to the report, employees suffering from financial stress were also more likely to take up to 2.4 extra sick days a year and spend up to an hour a week dealing with money issues whilst at work.
The study found the summer holiday season was amongst the worst times of year for people to experience financial stress.
“As the holiday season comes to an end, and credit card bills start to roll in, many Australians will be starting the new year under significant financial pressure, said AMP Director of Workplace Super Ilaine Anderson
“While many people think money worries are a personal issue, our research shows being financially stressed spills into your working life, increasing absenteeism and impacting productivity,” she said.
The research showed no income group was immune from financial stress. Those earning between $50,000 – $74,999 reported the highest level of financial stress (26 per cent), followed by $25,000 – $49,999 (24 per cent), $75,000 – $99,999 (16 per cent), $100,000 – $149,99 (12 per cent) and $150,000 and above (11 per cent).
Anderson suggested connecting finances to financial goals was one-way people feeling financial stress could take more control of their expenses.
“The research shows if people have well-defined goals and a plan in place to achieve them, they have greater peace of mind. Goals help lift people above the day-to-day expense cycle, allowing a more ‘in-control’, longer-term view,” Anderson said.
Anderson also believes employers can play a bigger role in promoting financial wellness.
“The research found flexible working hours and the ability to work from home improved employee performance, engagement and financial wellness. Reducing the stigma around financial stress is also important, as many of those surveyed cited embarrassment and guilt as a major reason for not tackling their financial woes.
“We need to make sure talking money isn’t seen as taboo and implement financial literacy campaigns within our businesses to help employees achieve their financial goals,” said Ms Anderson.
The Financial Wellness Index, which measures how employees perceive their current and future financial situation, found 5 per cent of Australian workers are severely financially stressed, 14 per cent are moderately financially stressed, 35 per cent are mildly financially stressed, 46 per cent are financially secure.