Working mothers face particularly high levels of stress in today’s economy – and employers are challenged to address this issue if they wish to retain their best.
One study by the organization Financial Finesse found that low and middle income mothers are hit the hardest. In fact, 55% of women with annual incomes of $60,000 or less (who have minor children) report “high” or “overwhelming” levels of financial stress.
What’s behind this stress? The report’s authors cite “a lack of sense of sense of control” as a primary factor. In fact, 84% of the respondents who reported overwhelming stress described their existing situation as “not under control.”
These findings are bolstered by other studies showing that 60% of women don’t have enough emergency savings for unexpected events and that 60% of payday loan borrowers are female.
This reality is vividly demonstrated by Katrina Gilbert, a 30-year-old, single mother of three in the HBO documentary called “Paycheck to Paycheck.”
She’s a certified nursing assistant working in a nursing home in Chattanooga, TN, who is struggling to pay her bills and provide for her young children. Her ex-husband – a factory worker – is frequently unemployed and pays no child support. She relies on food stamps, an earned income tax credit, and donor-backed, daycare centers to keep it all together.
“I have headaches every day and feel stress over every little thing,” she says. “My daughter, Brooklyn, looked at me in the car this morning and said, ‘Mommy, you need help.’ And I was, like, I know I do.”
This is but one story, but stories like this are playing out all around us all the time.
“While it’s no surprise to any working mother that juggling competing financial needs is stressful, small steps over time can create financial balance for families at any income level,” says Liz Davidson, Financial Finesse CEO and the mother of a seven-year-old.
She encourages working mothers to build an emergency fund over time, track expenses to pay down high-interest debt, and take full advantage of employer-sponsored benefits.
So, what might employers do to provide greater financial stability to working mothers?
If you are an employer, you can enhance the financial well-being of your people, reduce workplace stress, enhance job performance, and reduce turnover expenses – all big wins with an impressive return on (virtually no) investment.
As the stories of working mothers (and many others besides) demonstrate, on-demand access to earned income helps people gain greater financial control and build resilience to frequent financial shocks that come in the form of bills and overdraft fees.
Take one step closer to being an organization that not only attracts the best employees but also cares for their financial wellbeing.
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