This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 29, 2013

Financial Stress Hits Bottom Lines

The medical establishment has long recognized the link between physical and emotional stress and disease. At this point in time, more than 200 medical research studies have documented the connection between chronic stress and disease. These mental and physical diseases are often both costly and debilitating.

The good news is that a growing awareness of this link is prompting employers to take a more holistic approach to employee wellness, addressing workers' financial health in addition to physical health. That is because one of the primary causes of employee stress is worry about personal finances.

According to the American Psychological Association, money, the economy, and jobs are the three main causes of stress for people in the United States. Although we are seeing a number of positive economic signs, the average employee is still struggling to make ends meet.

A survey conducted for Allstate earlier this year showed that four in ten people still live paycheck to paycheck and half describe their financial situation as "fair" or "poor". Moreover 47 percent say they are "not saving as much as they should be".

As outlined in the PwC 2012 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, "Despite recent improvements in the economy, the hangover effect from the recession and slow economic growth continues to erode employeesÕ retirement confidence and overall financial wellness."

Unfortunately, most employees are unable to leave their problems at home. Over one-third (35 percent) reported spending one to two hours per week distracted by personal finances. Obviously, this distraction results in lower productivity and a diminished work environment.

In fact, concerns about money also increase employee turnover. A surprising report from Financial Literary Partners estimated that an incredible 40 percent of turnover is due to financial stress. Employees are switching jobs to earn more short-term income.

Wise employers are already embracing solutions to lessen workers' financial insecurities. While they may enhance their benefits with retirement plans, healthcare coverage, and life/disability insurance, there are also voluntary benefits such as financial education (see below for our sponsor's message), legal benefits (including identity theft protection), and an employee purchase program*.

* Employee purchase programs offer employees the opportunity to buy big-ticket items over time with manageable payments handled through payroll deduction. This system eliminates the risk of incurring late payment fees or higher interest charges.

Editor's Note: Joyce Gioia's father was a world-class physician who studied the link between stress and pancreatitis. After conducting some of the seminal research in the field with Hans Selye, Canadian author of the landmark book "Stress", Dr. Murrel Kaplan was convinced of the link. Kaplan believed that much of the disease that plagues humankind is stress-related. Gioia has been exploring that link for most of her life.

Special thanks to Lynn Gresham and "Employee Benefit News" for raising our consciousness to this important issue.

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