Today’s Workers: No Money, Mo’ Problems

Today’s Workers: No Money, Mo’ Problems

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If more Americans are taking their work home with them, they're also bringing their personal problems to work. A new survey by the Society for Human Resource Management finds that workers financial issues are affecting their performance on the job, or at least that HR people say they are.

The society asked 458 of its members about the “personal financial challenges” their employees are facing and how those issues affect productivity. About half of the HR officers said the biggest financial problem for workers was that money is tight, or as the report puts it, “an overall lack of monetary funds to cover employees’ personal expenses.” More than a third (35 percent) said that medical expenses were a major concern for employees at their organizations.

Related: After the Layoff: Congrats on Your New, Worse Job

Those money worries are creating workplace woes, as 22 percent of the human resources officers said employees’ financial issues had a “large impact” and another 61 percent cited “some impact” on overall performance. Only 16 percent said they saw “slight impact” and 2 percent said there had been “no impact” on workers.

Of those HR people who said they were seeing financial worries cause issues in the workplace:

  • 47 percent say that financial issues have affected the “ability of employees to focus on work”
  • 46 percent say that the money problems have raised overall employee stress levels
  • 26 percent see a negative impact on "overall employee productivity"
  • 24 percent say money woes are leading to "employee absenteeism and tardiness"
  • 20 percent are concerned about "overall employee morale" (so much for compassion from your HR person)
  • 12 percent noticed a negative impact on "overall employee health"

Those numbers are another sign that the toll of the lackluster economy extends beyond those on the unemployment rolls – and that even as the unemployment rates ticks lower, many workers are still facing financial pressures brought about or made worse by the economic downturn and the housing bust.

The new survey also confirms that employees are often dipping into their retirement savings to deal with their financial problems. More than 70 percent of the HR professionals strongly agreed or agreed that their workers were more likely to dip into their employer-sponsored savings plans over the last 12 months than in past years.

As editor in chief, Yuval Rosenberg oversees all aspects of The Fiscal Times' website and email newsletter. His writing has appeared in publications including BusinessWeek,,, Fast Company, Fortune, Newsweek, Money and Time.