Canadians are worried about money. More than two-fifths of Canadians consider money to be their biggest stressor, and stories abound of people struggling under mortgages, bank loans, and student debts, or failing to save money for their future. Commentators ascribe some of this worry to problems of ‘financial literacy,’ the understanding people have (or lack) about money, especially about saving, spending responsibly, and investing. Many Canadians now find themselves living from paycheque to paycheque and their financial situation so precarious that one emergency could be disastrous. A survey in the United States found that 47% of respondents would not be able to cover a $400 emergency, or would have to borrow money or sell something to cover it. Another study found that more than a quarter of participants could not come up with $2,000 for an emergency in 30 days, and a further 19% could only come up with that much money in time if they pawned possessions or took out payday loans.
So while school boards across Canada now insist on teaching financial literacy to students (some starting as early as grade one), Canadian adults often have a long way to go before they can take control of their financial futures. All this financial uncertainty can translate into workplace stress, which may lead to mistakes, accidents, illness, absences, and higher turnover. There are many simple ways you can help your employees to feel more financially stable and to help them make the most of their money. Most employees recognize that money management is a valuable skill to have—they just don’t know how to learn or can’t find the time. Workplaces are ideal venues for financial education.
Becoming financially literate is important for everyone, and it’s in employers’ best interests to help employees meet their financial literacy goals. More and more organizations are seeing financial literacy as a part of their total workplace wellness initiatives. At the same time, workers recognize the importance of managing their finances wisely. Employers can differentiate themselves by the care they take of their employees beyond merely providing a paycheque and benefits. Teaching workers how to make the most of every penny will reduce their stress and make a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace for all.
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