Your browser is out of date.

The true costs of financial stress: More distracted, less productive employees

Employers 12.12.2018 3 MIN READ


43% of employees say they don’t live within their means. 77% say they aren’t in good shape to meet their goals.1 Money is the second-most cited cause of stress according to a Stress in America™ survey, with 62% of respondents reporting feeling stressed about money. For 25%, the ability to pay for life’s essentials proves stressful.2

A snapshot of generational stress

In Ayco’s experience working with thousands of employees across the country, we’ve seen high levels of financial uncertainty and stress in every generation. Employees answered a series of questions about their demographics, current financial situation and habits, which provided a baseline assessment. Their statistics mirror a national trend that indicates a broad need for financial wellness education and planning.1

Younger workers feeling stress

One notable trend is the high level of financial stress being experienced by millennials and Gen Xers. A Center for Retirement Research report states that millennials are carrying substantial student debt (they began working in the tight market after the Great Recession) and they operate in a labor market with fewer jobs offering pensions and health benefits. The report states, “These factors have delayed major life milestones such as getting married and owning a home and have limited their ability to accumulate wealth.”3

The cost of a financially unhealthy workforce

A workforce that is financially unfit exacts a toll in tangible and intangible ways such as workplace distractions, employee dissatisfaction and weakened job performance.  A study by the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA) declares this a “disengagement crisis” that is costing employers $300 billion annually in lost productivity.4

These financially stressed workers are taking higher numbers of sick days, incurring higher healthcare costs and are missing work proportionately more than their peers.

Financial wellness benefits: A change for the better

Financial wellness programs and platforms are making a difference. A Gallup poll on financial health noted that financial wellness is closely linked with positive behavioral changes and stronger relationships regardless of income levels.5

Ayco’s work supports this with insights from two key cohorts:

  1. Employees who had worked with Ayco prior to completing the Ayco financial wellness assessment
  2. Employees who had no previous experience with Ayco6

The difference is illustrated below. The group who had prior experience with Ayco’s comprehensive financial planning had a 16% higher initial financial wellness score when compared to new users on the platform. 

As of September 13, 2018, the average score for employees who worked with Ayco vs. those who didn’t work with Ayco.


Better over time

This same report also showed the value of engagement over time, detailing improvements in financial scores for those who engaged in conversations with an Ayco financial coach. As clients build and deepen their relationships with Ayco, there is demonstrable and continued improvement in their financial wellness score.

Clients who have multiple conversations continue to improve with each contact:

  • 1–2 conversations +10% improvement
  • 3+ conversations +25% improvement

Gains in productivity and return on investment

Two ways of measuring the efficacy of financial wellness programs are: 1) a highly functioning, motivated workforce, and 2) enhancements to the bottom line. To the first point, the DCIIA study argues that, “Financially capable employees are more likely to be engaged employees,” and that “workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.”4

As to the bottom line, it follows that happy, engaged workers positively impact a company’s performance and output. A study correlating happiness and productivity found that individuals who are happy have approximately 12% greater productivity than those who are not.7

Ayco can positively impact your company and help put your employees on the path to financial wellness through comprehensive counseling across planning disciplines, such as cash flow and budgeting, risk management, tax planning, estate planning, investments, and benefits and retirement.

Contact us to learn more about Ayco’s Financial Counseling offerings.



1Ayco’s Outcomes Report, September, 2018. Summarizing the outcomes for clients who engaged with Ayco through our digital platform and financial coaching during the period May 1, 2017 to September 13, 2018.

2American Psychological Association, 2017, Stress in America: The State of Our Nation. Stress in AmericaTM Survey,

3Alicia H. Munnell and Wenliang Hou, “Will Millennials be ready for retirement?”, January, 2018, Number 18-2,

4Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA), A Financial Wellness primer: Why Financial Wellness? July, 2017,

5Jade Wood and Rebecca Riffken, “Financial well-being and social relationships closely linked”, Gallup, December 14, 2015,

6Ayco’s Outcomes Report, September 2018. Figure compares users who utilized financial coaching prior to taking the assessment to users who did not utilize financial coaching prior to taking the assessment. Sample is for illustrative purposes only. Information as provided is not representative of one particular scenario, and results may vary.

7Daniel Sgroi, Happiness and Productivity: Understanding the Happy-Productive Worker, Warwick University, October 2015,

For disclosures relating to this article, please click here.