Employee Health Benefits: Financial Worries Impair Worker Performance, Study Finds

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By Rick Vollmar

April 25—Financial and particularly retirement security have become a more important issue for employees worldwide, and financial worries can have a deleterious effect on workplace performance, according to WillisTowersWatson's recently released of 30,000 employees in 19 countries.

Three-quarters of U.S. and Latin American respondents, two-thirds of Canadian, and approximately 60 percent of those from Europe and the Asia Pacific region reported that financial security had become a more important issue for them over the past two or three years, and roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents worldwide—and fully three-quarters in the U.S., Canada and Europe—are not confident of having sufficient resources to afford a long retirement. Over half of respondents worldwide (56 percent)—about two-thirds in North and Latin America and half or more in Europe and the Asia Pacific region—say they would be willing to pay a higher premium to ensure a guaranteed retirement benefit.

Employees who are struggling financially report higher levels of stress than their less-worried colleagues—globally, two-thirds of worried employees report high stress levels, only a quarter of those who describe themselves as “unworried”—and they also tend to be in poorer health. Higher levels of workplace stress result in higher absenteeism, and less healthy employees are less engaged in their work.

Perhaps surprising given these effects, only a third of respondents in the U.S. and Latin America and under 20 percent in Europe report that employer initiatives have encouraged them to lead healthier lifestyles, while 88 percent say they would be “on board” with such initiatives or “persuadable.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

More information on the WillisTowersWatson survey is available here. The countries surveyed were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.