Financially-stressed workers costs US employers $250 billion in lost wages

03 October 2017

According to new research, $250 billion in US annual wage losses can be attributed to the effects of financial stress. Employees spend an average of 13 hours per month worrying about their financial security; and while employers are keen to focus on ‘financial wellness programmes’, studies argue that low wages are the key source of stress in workers' lives.

Prolonged stress can have a devastating effect on human beings. Stress can reduce the ability of the immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses, resulting in the increased likelihood and duration of illness. If stress becomes chronic, a number of long-term physical and mental conditions can materialize: stress can impact the human brain, resulting in impaired working and spatial memory, as well as increased aggression.

A range of factors can impact a person’s stress levels, including one’s work environment. A new study by consulting firm Mercer seeks to identify the business cost of stress on US workers. The study, titled ‘Inside Employee Minds: Financial Wellness’, also examines avenues to mitigate stress, with analysis based on survey data from 3,000 US employees.

Financial wellness index

The headline-grabbing result of the study is that the economic impact of financial stress on US employees is an annual $250 billion – or around 5% of the total US payroll. The study notes that, while not only affecting those with the lowest salaries, financial stress does still disproportionately impact those with the least income. In terms of those in the lowest two financial wellness groups, 86% with household incomes under $100,000 – well above the median household income of $55,775 – are in the bottom two financial wellness groups.

Low pay remains a key issue in the US, with an earlier Mercer report relating that the biggest issue cited by employees in relation to stress at work is low pay, followed by inadequate staffing and company culture. Inequality in the US is growing unabated: corporate profits have continued to swell, while the top income group (top quintile) has increased its income by an average of more than $65,000.

Biggest financial worries

The study group was split between those who are considered to be in financial stress – thus having a low ‘financial wellness’ score – and those scoring highly on the index. Those with a low score note that the biggest issue keeping them awake at night, as cited by 62% of respondents, is just keeping up with their monthly expenses; the second most pressing issue is credit card debt. Those with a high score tend to fret about different financial matters – such as whether they have enough saved for retirement – something that low-scoring individuals are less likely to worry about.

Despite the strong links to pay in workplace stress, many employers remain steadfast in their commitment to treating stress by way of stress reduction programs. While these programs may help fight stress unrelated to pay, and even help to offset some stress derived from financial difficulties, it fails to tackle the root cause of employee financial stress.

Hours spent at work worrying

A large proportion of employees spend considerable time at work worrying about their financial wellness, or lack thereof. On average, a worker spends about 13 hours per month worrying about money-related issues: 25% of employees spend more than 10 hours per month worrying, while 15% spend more than 20 hours.

A large number of hours worrying corresponds highly to poor scores on Mercer’s financial Wellness Index: in the group that spends more than 20 hours worrying, 40% have a low score, compared to 10% in the group with no hours worrying. Overall, worrying is correlated with poor Financial Wellness Index scores.

Hours per month worrying

Summarizing the report’s findings, Mercer US Financial Wellness Leader Betsy Dill commented, “Financial stress has a clear cost to employers and the survey shows offering a financial wellness program has both tangible and intangible rewards for employers looking to differentiate their brand, improve the engagement of their people and add to the bottom line in terms of enhanced productivity.”



Leadership advisor YSC Consulting appoints Eric Pliner as CEO

18 April 2019

London-based global leadership consultancy YSC has appointed Eric Pliner as its new CEO, replacing Robert Sharrock, who held the role for five years. Pliner, previously the firm’s Americas leader, will remain based in New York City.

For 30 years, YSC Consulting has been providing leadership advisory services to clients across a wide range of industries. The firm provides services in the areas of leadership strategy, performance, research, and analytics. YSC also has offerings in organizational leadership and CEO & board advisory. The firm’s approach is grounded in the behavioral sciences, allowing clients to better align business strategy and leadership.

In 2017, Graphite Capital complete a private equity investment in the firm, which has allowed YSC to continue its rapid expansion across the globe. Today, the firm has 19 offices across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions, staffed by 225 professionals with backgrounds in clinical psychology and organizational behavior, among other areas.

YSC’s incumbent CEO, Robert Sharrock, will now move into the roles of managing director of YSC’s board and CEO of the advisory practice. Sharrock had previously indicated that he would move into a client-facing role following one year of results after the private equity infusion.Leadership advisor YSC Consulting appoints Eric Pliner as CEO


 “Having achieved the goals we established as a business during my tenure, I look forward to fully devoting my time to the client service areas of the business I find most rewarding, which is working directly with board members and CEOs,” Sharrock said. “I will also be offering my unreserved support to Eric and our global team as we continue to expand our distinctive business around the world.”

Eric Pliner, who has been with the firm since 2010, will step into the role of CEO. An expert in organizational behavior, talent management, and development, Pliner joined the firm as a senior consultant, working his way up to managing director and head of YSC Americas in 2014.

Prior to joining YSC, Pliner was director of organizational talent management & development at the NYC Department of Education, and was an adjunct instructor in the curriculum & teaching department at Hunter College in New York. He holds an MBA in management, organizational behavior, and human resources from the City University of New York – Baruch College.

“Robert has successfully led the business through five years of sustained growth and shaped the brand into a premier global leadership consultancy,” Pliner said. “I am thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to lead this iconic firm as we continue to serve world-class organisations in understanding and developing the critical leadership to achieve their future business strategies.

“Whether through individual executive assessment, pre-deal due diligence and post-deal integration for private equity transactions, design and execution of inclusive leadership and diversity strategy, coaching for senior executives and teams, resilient change leadership, and more, YSC’s global services are and will remain distinctive, characterful, and best-in-class,” he added.

Related: Ohio-based consultancy Change 4 Growth launches UK office