April 1, 2019

More than three-quarters of Australian workers feel stressed about pay issues: research

Findings from a new Ceridian survey revealed that when it comes to pay, HR leaders have an opportunity to re-think their employee experience to better meet the needs of their people. Here, more findings from the survey and what they could mean for employers.

Nathan Reynolds

Nathan is the Managing Director for Ceridian Australia. 

Ceridian’s recent survey of Australian workers finds that the majority of respondents are stressed about pay and money issues on a regular basis. Only 18% of respondents said they’re not at all stressed about these issues.

The survey, conducted by Hanover Research on behalf of Ceridian, asked 964 Australian workers, comprising a combination of part-time, full-time, and contract workers, about their perspectives on the state of pay at their organisations.

Workers are stressed – and it’s bad for business

These findings aren’t surprising – Australian workers are more financially stressed than ever. This stress and anxiety is also impacting employers, leading to increased time away from work and absenteeism, and lower engagement and productivity. This can translate to potentially lost revenue – a lot of it. Research consultancy AMP’s Financial Wellness report found that workers suffering from financial stress is costing Australian businesses an estimated $31.1 billion annually.

What’s troubling is that while the financially stressed-out state of Australian workers – and its impact on businesses – is clear, employers across the board aren’t necessarily addressing it.

Leading companies prioritize financial wellness

According to Ceridian’s research, 35% of survey respondents said they don’t feel their employers care about their financial wellness (29% believe they care a little, and only 19% believe they care very much. The remainder said they didn’t know).

This highlights an opportunity for companies to take a closer look at their programs to help protect both employee engagement and their business bottom line.

To support better business outcomes, leading companies are increasingly prioritizing their employees’ financial and mental wellness, and are seeking solutions that will enable their people to be productive, engaged, and satisfied at work.

It’s key that companies help employees focus on work, not on finances, by reducing that stress and creating a culture where people don’t feel overwhelmed, particularly in a world where the lines between work and life often blur and overlap.

Learn more about how leading companies are elevating employee wellness in Ceridian’s 2019 Human Capital Management Trends report

How employers can help alleviate financial stress

According to SHRM, some organisations are ramping up their financial wellness benefits offerings, and the options will differ depending on how organisations define “financial wellness.” For example, some companies are making their advisory programs more personalised, to offer guidance for different employee demographic groups (e.g. helping younger workers start saving earlier for retirement).

Companies are also re-thinking their pay experience and how it addresses the needs of the modern workforce. According to Ceridian’s survey, 61% of Australian workers aren’t completely satisfied with their overall pay experience, which includes factors like timeliness and accuracy of pay.

Read more about this finding, and get some tips on addressing it by modernizing payroll in this post.

Ceridian’s survey also found that while the majority of respondents are paid twice a month or less often, 55% said they would ideally like to get paid once a week. Additionally, 35% of survey respondents said they would be likely to participate in an on-demand pay (being able to request a payout based on earnings at any time through the pay cycle) program. Of those respondents, 53% said they’d do so because it would help with unexpected expenses, while 48% said it would reduce the stress of living week to week.

These findings align with what we know about the modern workforce – they expect flexibility from their employers, and seek a strong culture that supports work-life blending. Some organisations are addressing employees’ desire to be more in control of their finances by looking to technology, for example, to explore flexible payment options.

Taking these steps will not only help attract and retain talent in a competitive market, but it can also help improve a company’s brand reputation as one that prioritizes employee wellness.

Learn more about using technology to support your people strategy

Talking about pay is difficult for employees

Managers, take note. Of the respondents in Ceridian’s survey who said discussing pay with their managers is difficult, the top-cited reason (59%) was that they’re uncomfortable talking about it with their managers. Another 45% of respondents reported that their companies don’t have regular pay reviews, while 27% said their managers don’t have time to discuss the topic with them.

While pay can be a difficult topic to tackle, employers miss the mark if they’re not talking about it. 

Compensation conversations can be more productive when supported by data. Both managers and employees need information to better understand the big picture. Data provides context, for example, insight into an employee’s historical performance and salary information. As Harvard Business Review advises for these discussions, “Ground it in facts.”

This approach, combined with ongoing conversations with employees (instead of only an annual review), is more transparent and motivating for your people.

Related: Flight risk, pay equity, and more: Making your data work for compensation

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