Work Absenteeism Tied to Money Stress

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Most of us know how distracting and stressful it is when our credit card balance creeps up or there’s a gap between a bill’s due date and when our paycheck gets deposited.

But financial stress can also create serious problems at work like absenteeism, problems that can turn around and compound the financial problems.

More than one in four employees who said they deal with “financial stress” admit that it interferes with how well they do their jobs, says a new survey of 5,000-plus workers by the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson.

It also increases absenteeism. The study found that workers stressed about their finances are absent from work 3.5 days per year, on average – nearly double the absenteeism of people who are not stressed. And when the worriers are at work, they are “highly distracted” – this distraction can gobble up 12 additional days per year, interfering with how well they do their jobs, the survey found.

The workers expressed broader concerns than their unpaid bills, too, said Steve Nyce, a senior Willis Towers Watson economist. Many are very concerned about their long-term financial future and retirement.

Lower-paid employees, in particular, find it “really difficult to put money away when all of the other expenses [healthcare and tuition] are going on around us,” he said.

This survey dovetails with academic research finding that low-paid people in particular are continually worrying about money, which clouds their thinking and impairs their cognitive functioning.

Employers often try to figure out how to improve their workers’ well-being or their productivity. But the workers might simply prefer a raise.

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I totally agree with the last sentence. Employers do everything they can to increase worker motivation and productivity.

My question is simple: Is there a better motivator than a decent paycheck?
Yep, a well-earned raise will always be more effective than a coffee mug with the company logo or the employee’s initials.


Yes, I am not sure an employee fully appreciates that “coffee mug with a company logo and the employee’s initials” but, an increase in income does not necessarily offset the expenses an employee might have. Why? If the employee has bad spending habits, an increase in income might result in an increase in his or her spending and nothing in the way of debt reduction is accomplished.

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