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Financial stress seeps into workers' lives, CU-sponsored survey finds
EAST WINDSOR, N.J. (5/16/14)--Stress over personal finances is diminishing the productivity of U.S. employees and negatively affecting the bottom line of employers, according to a new survey sponsored by McGraw-Hill FCU, East Windsor, N.J.
"Business leaders should be troubled that many of our nation's workers continue to face financial hardships and related stress, especially during working hours," said Shawn Gilfedder, president/CEO of the $310 million-asset credit union. "Companies can and should take action to help employees effectively address their financial concerns, which will help improve the lives of workers and their families and also help strengthen company performance," he added.
While the sluggish economy is on the rebound from the Great Recession, many consumers are still reeling financially, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.  Employees are facing ongoing struggles for a variety of reasons, such as medical expenses, credit card debt, and child and elder care expenses. Employees continue to need financial education.
Nearly two of five workers (38%) are facing more personal financial challenges now compared with the onset of the recession in late 2007, and slightly less than one-quarter (23%) of respondents indicated employees are experiencing more personal financial challenges now compared with 12 months ago.
"To overcome these challenges, companies must make the financial wellness of their employees a priority," said Gilfedder. "The good news is that there are easily accessible solutions to this problem--some with no cost to employers."
Gilfedder suggests companies consider a number of actions that can help to reduce employee financial stress, enhance employee retention, build loyalty and ultimately, improve company productivity and performance:
  • Employers should offer employees financial education programs and make financial wellness a vital component of organizational culture.
  • Financial wellness initiatives should be provided as part of a package which includes employee health and wellness programs to maximize benefits for individuals and organizations.
  • Financial wellness programs should be customized to address the specific needs of different generations of workers.
  • One-on-one financial counseling, financial and retirement planning and debt restructuring services should be key parts of every employer's financial wellness program.
  • Partnering with a credit union is an attractive no-cost means for employers to provide financial wellness benefits to employees. Because credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions, they can provide employees with many low- and no-cost personal finance services including financial planning and counseling, higher interest rates on savings accounts, free checking and usually lower interest rates on loans and credit cards.
"Credit unions' financial wellness programs are an excellent no-cost benefit for companies to share with their employees," said Gilfedder. "We work as a trusted partner to deliver financial wellness for employees through a caring, consultative, and prescriptive approach.  We offer financial wellness resources that help employees gain greater control of their finances, resulting in fewer financial worries, less stress, better health and increased job productivity."

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