Proactive management is the answer to stressed-out employees, report says
February 24, 2009
TORONTO –The current economic downturn can severely impact workplace productivity unless organizations help employees deal with the added stress. This is according to a new report by Shepell·fgi, which examined employee use of Employee Assistance Programs as they relate to financial issues over the past two years.
According to the report, the number of accesses for financial counselling and consultation are rising at a rate twice that of all other EAP services. In the second half of 2008, there was a 13% higher rate of access for financial issues than in the second half of 2007, which indicates that employees are increasingly using EAPs for support and guidance. The report, called Financial Distress Impacts Health and Productivity, was conducted by the Shepell·fgi Research Group.
The report said that, in 2008, the top five financial issues for employees were: Debt/Credit - 37.6%, Financial Planning - 15.2%, Divorce/Finances - 8.7%, Financial Stress - 5.5%, and Bankruptcy - 5.2%. Shepell·fgi data show significant increases in all five of these areas when compared to 2007. According to the report, in 2008, there was a:
- 30.3% increase in cases related to collections issues,
- 20.3 % increase in creditor problems,
- 24.4% increase in bankruptcy issues, and,
- 41% increase for financial counselling related to divorce.
“In troubled economic times, employers must understand what is causing the decline in productivity and driving ever-increasing costs, so they can get ahead of things,” said Rod Phillips, President and CEO of Shepell·fgi. “Organizations need to focus on preventing the impact of serious financial stress, engaging their employees, and helping employees stay healthy and productive.”
Phillips said that employee accesses of EAPs for financial counselling and consultation – as measured by call volumes – were up significantly in the last quarter of 2008, and in January of 2009. He said employers can lessen the impact of lost productivity, and prevent disability claims due to stress and conflict in the workplace, by promoting their EAP services and making sure managers have access to the right tools and support.
Other key findings of the report are that: almost twice as many women as men are accessing EAPs for financial issues (65% vs. 35%); and, employees living in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Quebec are accessing EAPs for financial issues at a higher rate than the rest of Canada.
“Based on these data, from our vantage point as an EAP provider, there is cause for concern about the impact of the economic downturn on employees and on their organizations,” said Karen Seward, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, Shepell·fgi. “What can employers do about it? They need an integrated, long-term approach to employee health and productivity.”
Seward said organizations should do the following:
- Focus on preventing serious financial stress by helping employees better understand and cope with the economic downturn, in order to lessen its impact. Workplace-based, financial education programs have proven to be effective.
- Within the organization, actively promote your EAP’s proactive, financial counselling and consultation services.
- Engage your employees by creating a quality work environment. This involves a high level of communication, employee participation in decision-making, and management/supervisory styles which support employees and are based on trust, respect, and fairness.
- Understand the very real connection between healthy, productive employees and lower costs for disability and absenteeism.
“During economic downturns, there is an increase in disability rates,” says Paula Allen, Vice President, Health Solutions & Research Group, Shepell·fgi. “Research shows that workers in financial stress are absent from work more frequently, receive poor performance ratings from their supervisors, spend excessive time at work dealing with their financial problems, and experience a decline in job productivity.
“Clearly, the answer is to foster an atmosphere of good financial wellness and worker productivity.”
Download the full version of the Report
For more information please contact:
Phone: (416) 284-0838
Director, Marketing and Product Development
Phone: (416) 355-5411
Shepell·fgi is Canada's leading provider of workplace health and productivity services, including prevention-focused Employee Assistance Programs, Health and Disability Management, Organizational Health and Global Services. The company services over six million employees and their families across Canada, the United States and internationally. Shepell·fgi helps organizations maintain healthy employees and healthy workplaces.
The Shepell·fgi Research group, a division of Shepell·fgi, has a mandate to educate employers and business leaders on physical, mental and social health issues as these factors impact employees, their families and their workplaces. The Shepell·fgi Research Group offers a precise understanding of health and wellness trends by conducting sector and issue-based analysis. Since 2004, the Shepell·fgi research group has published thirteen issues based reports and seven sector based reports.
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