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Helping Employees Be Financially Fit

Updated: Apr 2

Employers are becoming increasingly aware of how personal financial difficulty is affecting performance at work, and ultimately, the bottom line.

Employees who are stressed because of their finances are less able to focus on career and personal goals, are less able to communicate effectively and request more time off to attend to personal, legal, and medical matters. Financial stress can affect employees at any income level – it’s not how much you make, it’s what you do with what you’ve got.

Employers are not only in a key position to provide money management information and assistance to employees; they will also benefit directly if they do.

Benefits to Employers of Financially Fit Employees Include:

  • Increased productivity – employees are less distracted and are better able to stay focused on company objectives

  • Decreased stress related illnesses and absenteeism, incl. substance abuse, accidents on and off the job, tardiness

  • Decreased HR costs – fewer garnishments, pay advance requests, use of assistance programs

  • Decreased theft – not theft with malicious intent, but more out of desperation, e.g. “borrowing” money to make ends meet until next payday

  • Increased ability to communicate and cooperate effectively with colleagues and to take instruction from supervisors

Early Signs of Financial Difficulty

Continually carrying debt on credit cards, depending on overdrafts or lines of credit to make ends meet, using one form of credit to pay for another, hiding spending from a partner or using credit to pay for essential living costs are some of the early indications that someone may be heading for financial difficulty.

Signs of more serious financial difficulty can quickly follow – receiving past due letters and collection calls at home or work, sleepless nights due to financial worries or legal action by creditors.

Pay cheques don’t come with instructions – it’s up to us to learn sound money management skills and enjoy reaping the rewards! As working adults, we are expected to be able to manage our finances responsibly. However, many people aren’t taught how to do this. It’s never too late to learn how to build a budget, use credit wisely, stay out of debt and save for the future – all of which fit hand in hand with developing a good financial plan for our money.

These are the main reasons we see why someone experiences financial difficulty:

  1. Lack of financial education or understanding of how to budget

  2. Unexpected Injury or Illness

  3. Unexpected separation from partner

  4. An excessive use of credit, or using credit for living expenses

  5. Having high loans and debt, such as student loans or car payments

  6. High housing costs

  7. Underemployment or unemployment

Recognize Possible Indications of Financial Difficulty, Including:

  • Unexplainable or frequent calls at work

  • Repeated confirmation of employment / income requests

  • Requests for time off to deal with legal matters

  • Moodiness or depression

  • Different interactive / social behaviour in the office, e.g. previously was happy to chat with colleagues but now is much quieter

  • Physical signs of stress, e.g. a more unkempt look than previously, tiredness,

  • nervousness, irritability

  • Sudden inability to problem solve or conduct objective analyses

Have Resources Available to Help Your Employees

  • Ensure your company has an EAP provider and that they are able to assist clients in personal or financial matters.

  • Have a list of reputable sources of assistance handy and made centrally available for employees to access confidentially.

  • Know that your employees have the rights and responsibilities around debt collection.

  • Set healthy professional boundaries - upsetting calls at work are unnecessary.

  • Support an employee's efforts to living within their means by reviewing office practices - Is eating out for lunch the norm? Are dress codes in line with salaries? Are there solutions for these situations, such as having a friendly lunch room to dine in?

Coming to an employer is usually a last resort. Most people experiencing financial difficulty will have already exhausted any conventional options available to them. If an employee comes to you, try to be as flexible as possible and try to accommodate their request for assistance, e.g. to change their payroll account on short notice. They may need to do this to avoid an offset or to deal with legal matters.

What Employees Can Learn to Do to Help Themselves

Tips to Avoid Common Credit Pitfalls

  • Make it a habit to pay bills on time

  • Keep paperwork and personal documents organized and up to date

  • File personal income tax on time every year

  • Be conscious of the cost of borrowing

  • Make choices that are consistent with predetermined goals

  • Pay credit cards in full every month

  • Have savings to pay for unexpected expenses – avoid depending on credit in a crisis

  • Develop a workable budget and review it periodically to determine if it is still helping you achieve your goals

FSEAP's Financial Coaching & Credit Counselling

FSEAP's Financial Coaching and Credit Counselling service offers consultations with CPAs and Certified Credit Counsellors to assist with taxes, accounting, budgeting, setting financial goals, and debt management.

FSEAP clients have two options based on their needs. Financial Counselling offers ongoing financial and personal support, while Financial Consultation can provide quick, practical answers to common financial questions and concerns.

Counselling is available both in person and by phone, while a 45-minute Financial Consultation is just a phone call away.

Take control of your financial future today. Contact your EAP to get started.

This article is originally published by Credit Counselling Society and Credit Counselling Canada.


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