Financial stress in the workplace is costing the Canadian economy close to $16 billion a year in lost productivity –and that’s a very conservative estimate, says a survey released on Wednesday by the Canadian Payroll Association.

The association’s 2019 National Payroll Week Survey of Employed Canadians found that 43 per cent of workers are so financially stressed that their performance at work suffers.

And the association said the costs of increased absenteeism, which one out of 10 admit to, turnover and benefit claims, as well as decreased job satisfaction and morale, also need to be taken into account.

Peter Tzanetakis

Peter Tzanetakis

“The costs of financial stress on people, their families, businesses and the economy are staggering,” said Peter Tzanetakis, president of the Canadian Payroll Association, in a news release. “Much like mental health, for Canadian businesses struggling to identify strategic advantages in a very competitive business environment, actively addressing the financial wellness of employees could provide a competitive edge and deliver bottom-line results.”

The survey also found that almost a quarter of working Canadians say they spend just under 40 minutes each day distracted by personal financial matters at work, which works out to be an 8.1 per cent loss in productivity based on an eight-hour workday.

The association said financial stress is the biggest source of stress for Canadians.

“Of the more than 4,000 respondents to the survey, the most significant concerns centred on rising costs of living — including housing costs and looming increases in interest and mortgage rates – with 40 per cent reporting they feel ‘overwhelmed’ by the amount they owe,” it said.

“Although one might expect that, feeling pressure to manage and pay down household debt would make us more cautious about spending more than we earn, the opposite is true.  One out of three admits that their debt has increased since 2018, and that they are still spending more than their net pay.”

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