Financial stress costs Australian businesses $31.1bn in lost revenue

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Two in five Australian workers experience financial stress during their careers.

AMP’s Financial Wellness report has found financial stress impacts two in five Australian workers during their careers, with nearly half feeling financially stressed for an average of six and a half years or more.

According to the report, there are currently 2.44 million Australians suffering from financial stress and this is having a significant impact on the economy, costing Australian businesses an estimated $31.1 billon per year in lost revenue.

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.

When it comes to the Australians most impacted by financial stress, the AMP study found:

  • Women are more affected than men, with 24 per cent of women found to be in financial stress compared with 14 per cent of men
  • Brisbane and Adelaide are the two cities worst impacted, with 25 and 22 per cent of workers respectively reporting financial stress
  • Those who earn between $50,000 to $74,999 are the most likely to feel financially stressed.

AMP Director of Workplace Super Ilaine Anderson said January and February can be the worst months for 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.

“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 value of goal setting

Ms 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 helps us engage with our finances, and then having a plan to achieve these goals can significantly ease stress.”

How employers can help

Ms Anderson commented 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,” said Ms Anderson.

Additional findings

  • 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.
  • Of Australia’s five largest capital cities, Brisbane is the most financially stressed, with 25 per cent of workers in this region experiencing financial stress. This is followed by Adelaide (22 per cent), Melbourne (20 per cent), Perth (17 per cent) and Sydney (16 per cent).
  • Financial stress is more prevalent in certain industries. Transport, postal and warehousing workers were most financially stressed with 25 per cent of workers experiencing money problems. This is closely followed by both administrative services and hospitality (24 per cent), financial and insurance workers (21 per cent) and both retail and healthcare and social assistance workers (20 per cent) who were financially stressed.
  • The demographics showing the highest incidence of financial stress include single parents (35 per cent), those living in shared accommodation (31 per cent), people living in regional Queensland (28 per cent) and women (24 per cent).
  • 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).

Download a copy of the Financial Wellness report.

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