Skillsoft Blog

Make this your best #FinancialFeb

By Tara O'Sullivan

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It is the first day of the second, and shortest, month of 2017. How are those New Year resolutions going? Still going to the gym? Bringing in a salad for lunch? Steering clear of the mall?

Most of us feel stressed about our money worries – everything from debt to saving for retirement, paying for children’s education, or medical expenses to simply covering basic living expenses. Stress that then translates to this alarming statistic that four out of five employers report that their employees’ personal financial issues are impacting their job performance somewhat, very much, or to an extreme degree[1].

Anyone who has ever worried about money knows only too well how financial concerns can consume and relegate everything else – even that job that is the only way, the only hope for sorting out your cash flow crisis.  A 2015 study by American Psychological Association found that 70 percent of workers polled were seriously concerned or worried about their finances.

I remember reading Suzy Orman’s amazing book “The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom” when I was (much) younger and I still have a copy which I reread anytime I worry about money, planning for the future or for my kids’ education.  I still feel guilty that I don’t have 6 months’ salary saved, which is one of her major rules!

I’m fascinated by the idea of “financial impotence” as documented in The Atlantic, in a very candid and provocative article by Neal Gabler. In it, he reveals the shame many middle-class Americans feel because despite appearances, they have no reserve, and the ‘rough patch’ has become a long, no-end-in-sight road.

We know too that when stressed, anxious, or in pain, it is simply not possible to perform at maximum capacity or potential. In fact, a University of Virginia study found that people who feel financially unstable experience more physical pain than those who feel financially secure. Ever mounting employee healthcare costs and absenteeism can attest to just how costly stress is to employers, so it makes sense to take measures to address or alleviate some of the major contributing factors.

A lot of companies are providing Financial Wellness plans, like physical wellness plans, these plans include things like retirement planning, healthcare cost planning, guides for savings for education and lots others.

So, what steps is your employer taking to help? I’d love your thoughts, ideas and any experience people have with Financial Wellness – please share them with me. And stay tuned for next week’s #WellnessWednesday post to understand how an employer can help.

[1] International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) survey

Tara O'Sullivan is Chief Creative Officer at Skillsoft.

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