A new report from financial services company AMP has found the retail industry to be among Australia’s most financially stressed.
According to its Financial Wellness report, 20 per cent of retail workers are “concerned about money”.
Other findings are equally concerning. For instance, two in five Australian workers suffer from financial stress at some point in their careers. And nearly half feel financially stressed for an average of six and a half years or more.
This stress takes a toll on people’s health. Employees troubled by their financial circumstances take an extra 2.4 sick days per year. They also spend almost an hour per week dealing with money problems at work.
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In total, across all sectors, 2.44 million Australians suffer from financial stress. The report claims it costs Australian businesses $31.1 billion in lost revenue every year.
Bad – but getting better
However, one of the report’s brighter findings was that, although financial stress is still widespread in the retail industry, it’s actually fallen by four per cent.
AMP’s Director of Workplace Super Ilaine Anderson said: “It’s positive we’re seeing financial stress decline in Australia’s retail trade industry. But we still have a long way to go.
“Businesses can play an important role in improving employee financial wellbeing and helping educate employees on how to overcome their financial challenges.”
Ms Anderson says January and February can be the worst months for financial stress in the wake of Christmas.
“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.
“Many people think money worries are a personal issue. But our research shows that being financially stressed spills into our working lives, increasing absenteeism and affecting productivity.”
How employers can help
Ms Anderson says employers can help promote financial wellness among their staff.
“The research found flexible working hours and the ability to work from home improved employee performance, engagement and financial wellness.
“Reducing the stigma around financial stress is also important. Many of those surveyed cited embarrassment and guilt as a major reason for not tackling their financial woes.
“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.”
- Of Australia’s five largest capital cities, Brisbane is the most financially stressed (25 per cent of workers). Sydney is the least, at 16 per cent.
- The highest incidence of financial stress is in single parents (35 per cent), those living in shared accommodation (31 per cent), those living in regional Queensland (28 per cent) and women (24 per cent).
- No income group is immune from financial stress. It even affects 11 per cent of people earning $150,000 and above.