AMP’s Financial Wellness Research has found that women are more affected by financial stress than men, with 24 per cent of women found to be in under such strain compared with 14 per cent of men.
Looking more broadly at the population, the report showed that 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.
Overall, 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 billion per year in lost revenue.
Employees troubled by their financial circumstances take an extra 2.4 sick days per year, AMP said, and spend almost an hour per week dealing with money problems at work.
Brisbane and Adelaide are reportedly the two cities worst impacted, with 25 per cent and 22 per cent of workers, respectively, reporting financial stress.
AMP director of workplace super Ilaine Anderson said that 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,” she said.
“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.”
As such, people across the board would do well to set proper goals, she said.
“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,” she explained.
“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.”
Employers can also play an important role in reducing one’s level of financial stress, she added.
“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,” she noted.
“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.”