Financial unwellness: how it's costing you $33bn a year

Women are behind in financial wellness ratings, says the latest Workplace Super Specialists  Australia (WSSA) research. 

The WSSA Financial Wellness index is a joint project with CoreData, and measures how free  someone is from financial worries and how able they are to live their 'desired lifestyle'. Overall, 12 per cent were found to be financially unwell and six per cent as financial 'superstars'. 

Financially unwell people are said to struggle with even the most basic elements of financial wellness, which begins at budgeting and debt management. Almost all the financially unwell respondents (96 per cent) indicated they were not prepared for the future, and 91 per cent said their finances were out of control. The majority of this group were women, with the majority, WSSA said, having poor financial literacy. 

The disparity is blamed on the usual suspects of workplace discrimination, wage ceilings, and financial abuse within relationships

Those  in the highest financial wellness category were under the care of a financial adviser (56.6 per cent). 

People who lack financial wellness are typically more stressed, and presenteeism (turning up to work when you're not really fit to be there), low morale, and absenteeism were other consequences of  poor financial wellness. 

Why does financial wellness matter? It costs us, that's how

The personal costs to our health and wellbeing by financial unwellness are clear, but the costs to business are also profoundly negative in both monetary and nonmonetary terms. The cost is estimated to costs business $33 billion annually in staff problems (showing up unwell, not showing up at all, sick leave, low morale). 

When businesses were surveyed, only 15 per cent had implemented a financial wellness program, with good results. Financial wellness improved by six times to regular amount. It's not the first place employers think to help their employees, but it can make a real difference in some unexpected - but obvious - ways. 

Findings of note for financial wellness

  • Age didn't matter
  • Men were financially more well than women
  • Six per cent of the financially unwell pay off their credit card regularly
  • Twenty-one  per cent of financially unwell spend more than they earn
  • Those with room for improvement save money regularly
  • Twelve per cent of those with room for improvement felt they had adequate insurance
  • Forty-five per cent of those on their way to wellness said they had specific financial goals, with two in three having average financial literacy
  • Four out of five financially well employees have no credit  card debt, and over half have a retirement savings plan. 
  • Superstars scored the top in most sections, with 90 per cent having  a retirement savings plan and 60 per cent documenting their estate plan

Download the WSSA Workplace Financial Wellness Index Report 2016