AMP’s Financial Wellness report has found financial stress costs Australian businesses $31.1 billion annually, and that the hospitality industry is among the worst affected.
According to the report, financial stress impacts almost one-in-four accommodation and food service employees (24 per cent). This is well above the national average among employees across all industries (19 per cent).
Currently, there are 2.44 million Australian workers classified as financially stressed and two-in-five experience a period of financial stress at some point during their careers.
Employees troubled by their financial circumstances take an extra 2.4 sick days per year and spend almost an hour per week dealing with money problems at work.
AMP Director of Workplace Super Ilaine Anderson said although the results for the hospitality industry are a concern, it is an improvement from 2016 when 32 per cent of workers were shown to be financially stressed.
“It’s promising to see a drop in the number of financially stressed hospitality workers, but there is a long way to go. Hospitality is still one of the worst performing industries for financial stress.”
“While many people think money worries are a personal issue, our research shows financial stress spills into our working lives, increasing absenteeism and impacting productivity,” she said.
Anderson believes January and February can be the worst months for financial stress and this is something that employers should be aware of.
“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,” she said.
Anderson added: “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.
“People don’t wake up and think ‘I’m going to get a home loan’ – it starts with the desire, or a goal, to buy a house. Connecting finances with goals help us engage with our finances, and then having a plan to achieve these goals can significantly ease stress.”
Anderson also said that employers can play an important 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,” Anderson said.
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.
The research showed no income group is 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).