Financial stress is preventing employees, employers and the economy from reaching their full potential, according to the results of the Canadian Payroll Association's annual survey of working Canadians released Sept. 4.

The survey found that 43 per cent of workers are so financially stressed that their performance at work is suffering. The association says, “financial stress deducts nearly $16 billion a year in lost productivity from the Canadian economy — and that's a very conservative estimate.”

The impacts in the workplace of financial stress include increased absenteeism, turnover, and benefit claims, as well as decreased job satisfaction.

Almost a quarter of the working Canadians surveyed say they spend just under 40  minutes each day distracted by personal financial matters at work, which equates to an 8.1 per cent loss in productivity based on an eight-hour workday.

Actively addressing financial wellness

"The costs of financial stress on people, their families, businesses and the economy are staggering," says Peter Tzanetakis, President of the Canadian Payroll Association. "Much like mental health, for Canadian businesses struggling to identify strategic advantages in a very competitive business environment, actively addressing the financial wellness of employees could provide a competitive edge and deliver bottom-line results."

The most significant concerns of those surveyed centered on rising costs of living, including housing costs and looming increases in interest and mortgage rates. Forty per cent of those surveyed reported feeling "overwhelmed" by the amount they owe.

Growing debt

One out of three respondents said that their debt has increased since 2018, and that they are still spending more than their net pay. Thirty-eight per cent of those who admitted to having credit card debt said it will take them more than a year to pay off.