Asian employees are worried about their financial future, causing stress, lower productivity and disengagement, according to findings from the 2015/2016 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey by Willis Towers Watson.
The study reveals that more than two-fifths of Asia Pacific employees (43%) often worry about their financial future, higher than the one in three employees (35%) who worry about their current financial state. The Willis Towers Watson 2015/2016 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey gauged the views of more than 9,000 employees in Asia Pacific, and found that, in what could have adverse implications for work productivity in the region, almost one in four workers in Asia Pacific (23%) say that their financial problems negatively impact their lives.
“While the financial situation is improving for many employees, long-term financial worries linger for many, leaving them feeling vulnerable,” said Andrew Heard, Head of Retirement — Asia Pacific at Willis Towers Watson. “Many employees struggle with long-term financial planning and are unaware what a comfortable retirement will require in terms of savings.”
Financial concerns/stress are impacting on-the-job performance
The study found that more than two-thirds of employees (68%) with current worries say that money concerns prevent them from producing their best work (compared to only 13% of those who are unworried).
Current or long-term financial worries are linked to stress, lower productivity and disengagement. For example, of those who are struggling (experiencing both current as well as long-term worries), 73% of employees say that they have stress levels that are above average or higher. This compares with only 30% of those who are unworried.
Higher levels of both absenteeism and presenteeism can occur in employees with financial concerns. Those who are struggling financially say they lose 3.7 days per year to absence and 12.8 days per year due to reduced work productivity, compared to 3.1 and 8.8 days respectively, for those who are not worried about their finances.
“Financial security is a top-of-mind issue for employees,” said Heard. “Financial worries can have a harmful impact on their personal and work life, and inevitably affects work productivity, employee engagement and job satisfaction.”
Employers can offer their staff respite
The survey found that more than half of employees (55%) in Asia Pacific believe their employers should actively encourage them to better manage their finances.
“Employers are in an excellent position to help employees achieve retirement and financial security as well as reinforce good personal financial habits,” said Heard. “The first step is to know your workforce — understand different segments, their needs and priorities. From there, employers can design an optimal benefits programme that engages employees, is personalised to their needs, and meets their financial goals both in the short and long term.”