APAC employees’ life gets harder as money pressures mount: Willis Study
“As a starting point, employers should identify and focus on the workforce segments struggling financially. Then they should communicate with their employees to try to understand their future outlook and barriers. In this process, it is important for employers to note how financial vulnerabilities differ across the workforce – a young millennial still trying to pay off student debt has very different needs compared with a baby boomer who is trying to save for retirement. With understanding generally comes a solution, if that’s what the employee wants,”
Employees in Asia Pacific are deeply concerned about their financial security, negatively impacting their personal and work lives, according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.
The Willis Towers Watson 2017/2018 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found that a fifth of all employees in Asia Pacific now believe their financial concerns are negatively impacting their lives. In addition, more than two in five (42%) worry about their future financial state,while a similar percentage (41%) said their financial security has become a more important issue for them in the last 2-3 years.
The survey findings demonstrate clearly how financial pressures correlate with stress, poorer health and lower engagement at work, all of which impacts productivity or creates higher levels of staff turnover. By extension, it affects the overall performance of the company.
“The ongoing financial worries that are troubling so many employees are taking a toll on their financial confidence,” said Jeff Howatt, Head of Retirement, Asia at Willis Towers Watson. “The negative impacts are not only on the personal lives of employees – both physically and mentally - but also on their behaviour at work, particularly their productivity and engagement.”
This is especially true among “struggling” employees (13%), identified in the research as those worried about their short- and long-term finances. Half of these struggling employees (50%) said money concerns were keeping them from doing their best at work. Higher levels of absenteeism were found among this group.
Additionally, almost three in four (72%) struggling employees reported above average or high stress levels, while more than two in five (42%) described their health as poor. Only around one in four (27%) of these employees were fully engaged at work compared with nearly half of employees (48%) without any worries who were fully engaged. This shows a clear connection between financial worries and good health.
Employers also understand the huge impact of financial worries on their employees. 58% of employers think they should take an active role in encouraging their employees to manage their personal finances better, according to the 2017/2018 Asia Pacific Benefit
Trends survey, another research from Willis Towers Watson.
“While employers understand the impact, the challenge is how to provide the right sort of support - neither too superficial nor intrusive,” said Howatt. Given that almost half of employees (45%) indeed would like their employers to offer tools that provide suggestions on how they can improve their financial situation, finding the right solutions can be highly rewarding on all fronts.
“As a starting point, employers should identify and focus on the workforce segments struggling financially. Then they should communicate with their employees to try to understand their future outlook and barriers. In this process, it is important for employers to note how financial vulnerabilities differ across the workforce – a young millennial still trying to pay off student debt has very different needs compared with a baby boomer who is trying to save for retirement. With understanding generally comes a solution, if that’s what the employee wants,” added Howatt.
“It would also be helpful for employers to review the suitability of their HR and retirement arrangements for different workforce segments to lessen the long-term financial burdens of the employees.”
Other findings from the 2017/2018 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey include:
• Only 37% of employees budget on a regular basis; however, the 19% who don’t budget, but instead actively monitor, have even higher financial confidence.
Only two in five APAC employees are confident they’ll have sufficient resources 25 years into retirement while more than half (55%) are confident they’ll have enough resources 15 years in retirement. Both figures are down from 2015.