Flora Williams, associate professor of family and consumer sciences, is researching the impact of financial stress on employee productivity. She suspects that financial counseling for workers might help companies improve profitability.
"It's crucial that productivity not fall off in our global economy," Williams explains. "Worker stress is known to lower productivity by way of absences, tardiness, lack of job concentration, accidents and lower output. It would be helpful for businesses to know how much of that stress in money-related, and if financial counseling for employees would be a cost-effective way of addressing it."
Williams' literature search has turned up one study suggesting that 10 percent of all employees in the workplace have financial difficulties that affect their productivity, and she says that may be a conservative figure. Another research report says personal financial problems could be affecting the performance of nearly one-third of America's corporate work force.
While many companies have embraced employee assistance programs as a way to help workers overcome substance abuse, domestic conflicts and mental health problems, they have not been as proactive in providing financial counseling.
"If the bottom line starts to be threatened, we know companies will move aggressively to solve the problem," Williams says. "Financial counseling for their employees is a step in the right direction."
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