A financial wellness report has found money worries cost Australian businesses $31.1 billion annually, and that the hospitality industry is among the worst affected.
According to the AMG report, financial stress impacts almost one-in-four accommodation and food service employees, well above the 19 percent national average for employees across all industries.
Employees troubled by their financial circumstances take an extra 2.4 sick days per year and spend almost an hour per week dealing with money problems at work.
Currently, there are 2.44 million Australian workers classified as financially stressed and two-in-five experience a period of financial stress at some point during their careers.
AMP director of workplace superannuation Ilaine Anderson said although the results for the hospitality industry are a concern, they were an improvement from 2016 when 32 percent of workers were shown to be financially stressed.
“It’s promising to see a drop in the number of financially stressed hospitality workers, but there is a long way to go. Hospitality is still one of the worst performing industries for financial stress.
“While many people think money worries are a personal issue, our research shows financial stress spills into our working lives, increasing absenteeism and impacting productivity,” she said.
Ms Anderson believes January and February can be the worst months for financial stress and this is something that employers should be aware of.
“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.
The research outlined the benefits of having well-defined goals and a plan in place to achieve them, giving workers greater peace of mind.
“Goals help lift people above the day-to-day expense cycle, allowing a more ‘in-control’, longer-term view,” said Anderson.
“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 help us engage with our finances, and then having a plan to achieve these goals can significantly ease stress.”
The research found employer concessions such as flexible working hours and the ability to work from home improved employee performance, engagement and financial wellness.
And reducing the stigma around financial stress helped ease the embarrassment and guilt cited by many as a major reason for not tackling their financial woes, according to AMP.
“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,” said Ms Anderson.
Alongside hospitality workers, the report found financial stress to be most prevalent among postal, warehousing and administrative service workers.
When it came to location, Brisbane was found to be home to Australia’s most financially stressed with 25 per cent of workers experiencing money woes. It was followed by Adelaide at 22 percent, Melbourne at 20 per cent, Perth at 17 percent and Sydney 16 percent.
The research showed no income group is immune from financial stress. Those earning between $50,000 – $74,999 reported the highest level of financial stress at 26 percent, followed by $25,000 – $49,999 at 24 percent, $75,000 – $99,999 at 16 percent, $100,000 – $149,99 at 12 percent and $150,000 and above at 11 percent.