With the RRSP deadline upon us, many Canadians have spent the past week scrambling to open an RRSP account or attempting to secure a loan to fund their tax-deductible investment. At the same time, scores of others simply don’t have the means, knowledge, or wherewithal to contribute to an RRSP this year.
Did you know that 40% of Canadians have tapped into their RRSPs to pay for living expenses to make ends meet?
RRSP season shines a light on the oft-overlooked issue of our financial health—and the accompanying stress that negatively impacts our physical and mental health, our livelihood, and our workplace productivity.
It’s a numbers game—with room for improvement
How stressed are Canadian workers when it comes to finances? In a word, very.
Financial wellness might not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing workplace health benefits, but it’s a key trend championed by forward-thinking people managers—and it’s top of mind for us at Rise, both personally and professionally.
This snapshot of key points illustrates the ramifications of the poor financial health of today’s workforce:
- Slim emergency savings: a recent survey found 23% of respondents identified themselves as struggling financially, with 78% of this group living paycheque-to-paycheque.
- Emotional impact: the 2017/2018 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey reports almost one-third of workers (30%) believe their financial concerns are negatively affecting their lives.
- Frequent illness: in a recent PwC study, one quarter of employees say health problems are due to financial worries.
- Disengagement: the 2016 Sun Life Canadian Health Index said 29% of Canadians are distracted at work due to their financial situations.
- Retirement on hold: PwC research shows 54% of employees who are stressed about their finances plan to postpone retirement.
Can you create a plan that mirrors and supports your talent pool?
Poor financial health not only negatively impacts employees but is a drain on employers, prompting a solid business case for actively helping employees become more financially secure.
But where to begin? When it comes to financial wellness, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and pre-retirees each have their own particular commitments, opportunities, and challenges.
Regardless of your organization’s demographics, it is essential to consider the following points to ensure a solid and effective outcome for any personal finance program that is part of your employee health and wellness offerings:
- Privacy: personal financial information must be handled with the highest levels of accuracy and security.
- Prioritization: engage your employees to find out current and future financial vulnerabilities with an eye to their different demographics.
- Inclusiveness: Work with your employees to identify and prioritize the causes of financial stress. This first step is essential for HR leaders to create personalized wellness programs that reflect individuals’ varying needs.
- Transparency: Like every aspect of your employee wellness offerings, the financial component should be open, relevant, best practice, and provide an engagement channel for questions and concerns.
- Tools and technology: The popularity of the internet and smart phones has unleashed a plethora of personal finance resources. Work with your employees to provide the right mix of traditional and digital information sources.
As the CRO of Rise People, I am passionate about the health and wellness of Canadians in the workplace and am keen to bring attention to the serious issue of financial health and its impact on overall wellness.
I’d like to share the following short e-book as a guide to understanding the role financial health plays in your employees’ lives and how to best support their wellness goals: Employee Financial Wellness: The New Health Frontier