The Correlation Between Health Decline and Financial Stress

By Dixie Wright on August 20, 2017

Financial stress and employee health

The truth is, most employee stress—and therefore, most common employee health complications—can be traced back to financial instability. A USA Today survey found that people with high financial stress have 3 times the digestive tract problems, double the rate of heart attacks, and 44% more migraines. Likewise, a company with 100 full-time employees can lose as much as $520,000 annually from employee financial stress.

How can you help? Well, by understanding the true consequences of financial stress, you (the employer) can play a crucial role in addressing the underlying issues (once and for all).

Read on to know how financial stress affects your employees’ mental and physical health, and how you can turn this around and carry your team—and company—to success.

Mental Health Decline

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Does mental health decline stem from financial stress, or the other way around?

It’s hard not to imagine that, when you’re pushed to the margins, you’re prone to make choices that aren’t necessarily in your best interest. (Something living paycheck-to-paycheck will do.) In fact, fears such as not being able to pay rent or bills on time each month can lead to symptoms of depression and PTSD—issues that make those suffering likely to budget poorly and spend irresponsibly. In turn, this increases financial anxiety and exacerbates mental health issues even further.

Needless to say, ongoing financial stress can cause or worsen many psychological problems: anxiety, depression, hopelessness, chronic stress, sleep disorders, anger issues, and even acute financial stress (AFS). And, lower income employees are twice as likely to suffer than higher income employees. According to The Shriver Report, “23% of low-income employees exhibit two of the three indicators of depression, compared with 10% of high-income employees."

Pair overwhelming financial stress and crippling depression together, and it’s not exactly a game-winning recipe for productive employees. So, whether it’s the chicken or the egg first—or in this case, the mental health issues or the financial stress—it doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that employee mental health and financial stress is worsening as we speak. However, mental health decline is only the half of it. Physical health decline also plays a part.

Physical Health Decline

Have you ever heard of the “fight or flight” response? If you have, you already know a little about how financial stress affects the body. If you haven’t, let me explain: When you experience extreme stress, you enter “fight or flight” mode. Heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure increases. This automatic, involuntary response prepares the body to “fight” or “flee” from possible harm.

Over time, this stress can cause or worsen many physical health issues:

  • Heart disease/attack
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Insomnia
  • Diabetes
  • Psoriasis

When you think about it, it makes complete sense. How can physical health thrive, anyway, for those who face extreme debt, can’t pay their bills on time, and have no savings?

Simply put, there’s no way it can. The inherent physiological response from stress puts the body under so much pressure that, inevitably, physical health begins to suffer. With the lower-income segment of America —your employees included—struggling with financial stress on continuous, terrifying levels, employee health and productivity is worsening further every day.

What’s the solution? Well, taking into account that 90 million employees are living paycheck to paycheck, offering employees a financial wellness solution is imperative for your business.

With PayActiv, improving employee financial health has never been so simple. Our holistic approach provides employees with long-term peace of mind, and offers the opportunity for your business to save an annual average of $50,000 per 100 employees enrolled.

What are you waiting for? Contact us to improve employee financial health today.

It's more than a paycheck.
It's peace of mind.

It's more than a paycheck. It's peace of mind.

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