American Workers Stress The Most About Their Jobs and Finances

Oct 03, 2018
| Michael Altiero
Workers Stress About Jobs and Finances

The last several years have seen employers take a more hands-on approach to improving employee wellness. Benefits, programs, and perks have been added by employers to help their employees’ wellbeing both at work and home.

However, despite the increased awareness and preventative measures implemented by employers, employees today continue to feel stressed, especially around work, finances, and debt – as revealed in Fidelity Investment’s Total Well-Being Research online survey.

Let’s explore some of the results.
 

Survey Background and Initial Findings

The survey was taken by 9,315 U.S. workers who have a 401(k) or 403(b) account with Fidelity. It was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the Stanford Center on Longevity and Cornell University.

The main focus of the survey were the four domains of wellbeing:
 
  • Financial
  • Health
  • Work
  • Life

Fidelity modeled the survey after their Financial Wellness assessment, with the goal of assigning a total wellbeing score for respondents within each of the four wellbeing domains.

Respondents were assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 100, where a 61 or higher was considered well, and a score of 60 or below was viewed as unwell.

The results showed that overall wellbeing is high, with 77% of respondents considered well. However, 68% of employees were found to be unwell in at least one of the four wellbeing domains.
 

How Did Employees Score in Each Wellbeing Domain?

Not surprisingly, the Financial domain is where the most employees struggle with their wellness. Here, 42% fall into the unwell category. Additionally, when looking solely at stress, finances were listed as the number 2 source, behind only job-related stress.

The Work domain was listed as being the leading cause of stress, even though 63% of employees responded as well in this category. More specific findings from the work domain include:
 
  • 87% of employees were satisfied with their jobs
  • 24% of workers struggle with limited career progression
  • 27% feel burnt out at work

In the Life domain, 33% of employers were reported as unwell, and 30% said they frequently feel stressed.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came in the Health domain, where only 12% of workers were reported as unwell.
 

How Do Finances, Health, Work, and Life Impact Overall Wellness?

The next part of the survey looked to uncover how the wellbeing domains are interconnected.

The results showed that work and finances are the biggest sources of stress for workers today. Additionally, 98% of respondents reported feeling stressed in the past 3 months. Other areas where employees reported high levels of stress included:
 
  • Job – 47%
  • Saving for the future – 34%
  • Paying off debt – 33%
  • An individual’s weight – 30%

On the flip side, the survey showed the impact family and friends have on boosting someone’s overall wellness, as having multiple close relationships in a strong indicator of improving wellbeing.

Fidelity’s survey also showed the negative results debt can have on employees and their wellbeing. Workers with higher amounts of debt have two times the amount of absenteeism and on average miss an additional full week of work.

Digging deeper into this found that past-due medical expenses are the main type of debt that leads to workplace absenteeism. Also, unpaid medical bills have a few other negative impacts on wellness:
 
  • 84% are financially unwell
  • 66% don’t get enough sleep
  • Miss an average of 3 more days of work each year

Next, the survey explored the role debt plays with health issues. It found that while 35% of workers not struggling with debt were in excellent health condition, only 14% of those with debt issues were in excellent health.

The results also showed that sleep is negatively impacted by debt, with just 35% of those in debt getting enough sleep (compared to 54% for those that aren’t in debt).

Lastly, the survey revealed that health and wealth are especially tied to one another. More specifically, being well in one of these areas is extremely difficult when there are issues in the other.

Perhaps the most eye-opening statistic in this survey, only 4% of workers who had poor health results had strong financial wellness scores. Meanwhile, 60% of employees who scored well in health also scored positively with finances.
 

Employers Must Understand and Take Actions to Help Employees Deal with Stress

Surveys like the one conducted by Fidelity show just how important workplace stress management and employee wellness are for today’s workforce. With more resources available than ever before, employers can help their employees with their overall wellbeing, as well as more specific areas of wellness like finances.

Adding wellness resources to employee benefit and perk offerings are one-way employers can help their employees improve their wellbeing moving forward.

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