Economic stress impacts employee health, productivity

According to recent reports, you can now add employee health to the list of victims of the recession. Studies show that financial stress due to the current economic recession is having a dangerous impact on employee health and productivity.

Results from the AARP survey, Impact of Economy on Health Behaviors, reveal that one in five adults ages 45 and older are suffering health problems due to financial stress and many are delaying medical treatment because they can’t afford it.

"Right now people are increasingly concerned about their jobs, retirement savings and simply being able to provide for their families and it's taking a major toll on their health," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director. "It's a harsh irony that worrying about being able to afford health care is actually causing health problems."

Key findings of the AARP survey include:

  • 20% of people 45 and older reported health problems due to financial stress
  • 22% have delayed seeing a doctor due to cost
  • 16% had to use retirement savings or other savings to pay for medical care
  • 21% have cut back on other expenses to afford their medical care
  • 16% are not confident they will be able to afford health care in 2009

A poll by AXA PPP healthcare of 200 HR professionals found that a quarter of firms believed the majority of their employees were showing symptoms of stress as a result of money worries.

More than 75% felt that employees would be more productive if they were less concerned about financial issues. Unfortunately, more than 40% of HR professionals admitted they would wait until a worker asked for help before offering advice or support.

Instead of waiting for employees to come to them, HR can take proactive steps to help make a positive impact on employee stress. Helping employees deal with mounting financial stress can lead to lower health care costs, higher morale and a healthy bottom line.

According to the wellness professionals at Wellness Corporate Insights, HR can help employees by:

“Establishing comprehensive corporate wellness programs to increase employees' awareness of their own behavior, to show them that the company knows and cares, and to head off problems of increased health care costs and diminished health and efficiency that will remain after the recession is over."

"It's an important time to focus on employee wellness--not only for the good of employees, but for the health of the company too.”


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