Why employee financial wellness should matter to business owners

Financial stress

Written by Nitin Manohar
March 29, 2018

A great business owner knows that it takes more than a desirable product or service to succeed. Whether your team is large or small, employees are critical to the performance of your company and the execution of your brand. Workplace culture plays a role, but there are greater elements such as the individual physical and mental health of your staff. When these things are in line, employees (and businesses) can thrive.

Many companies have decided to be proactive about employee wellness. Some provide gym memberships or healthy snacks in the break room, while another may host a seminar on mental health in the workplace. These are great ways to support employee wellness and encourage staff to take care of themselves. However, there is one important element that employers frequently miss: the financial well-being of their staff.

A recent survey by Manulife indicated a clear link between employee financial wellness and productivity. In fact, 93% of respondents indicated that financial stress could negatively impact their performance at work, and 40% said that they were financially unwell1. Unfortunately, the same research revealed that many employees hide or downplay this stress as it creates a sense of failure and shame. This creates an emotional barrier to financial wellness and can lead to challenges on the job.

It is estimated that issues connected to financial stress can cost Canadian businesses between $15-25 billion per year in lost productivity2. That’s a massive loss! Not only is financial stress causing a negative impact on Canadians, it was the potential to impact our economy and small business community. Fortunately, there are ways for business owners to take on this issue and foster financial wellness among staff.

How business owners can mitigate employee financial stress

First, understand that financial stress is not directly tied to income. A person with an exceptionally high income can feel financially unwell while a person who earns far less may feel no financial stress at all. This is because stress isn’t about how much money you have – it’s about feeling secure, in control and prepared for the future. Particular areas of interest within the study included budgeting, retirement planning, investments, debt, protection and stress. Interestingly, it was found that feeling informed and confident in areas such as budgeting, investing and retirement planning resulted in significantly lower stress levels3. More so, when a respondent was confident in one area of finance, they were likely to be confident in other areas. When it comes to financial well-being, knowledge is a powerful tool!

Employers can encourage financial well-being among employees in a number of ways. If it’s feasible, start by having a great benefits plan and helping employees understand it. Retirement security is a major element of financial stress, but employers can help by contributing to a pension fund, offering RRSP matching or even having a retirement planning expert counsel staff one-on-one. Additionally, employers can bring in financial professionals to host in-office seminars on budgeting, investing, retirement planning and other wealth management issues. By educating your team, you are helping them take control of their money and reduce financial stress. Not only can this improve their quality of life, it can increase productivity and effectiveness in the workplace. (A true win-win, in our opinion.)

Questions? Give me a call.

As always, we’d be pleased to review your business or family’s wealth management needs. Please contact us to arrange a meeting.


1 Clearing the path to financial wellness (Manulife, 2017)
2 Clearing the path to financial wellness (Manulife, 2017)
3 Employee wellness and its impact on Canadian businesses (Manulife, March 2016)