Financial Wellness
January 27, 2020

7 Ways Financial Instability Hurts Employee Performance

The best employers care not only about their employees' performance at work but also their overall health and well-being. After all, a happy and healthy person is more likely to be a successful and productive employee.

But what happens when you have an employee dealing with impossibly difficult issues in their personal life? One group of people who face some of the most difficult situations on a daily basis include people suffering from financial instability.

No matter what the root cause of their money problems, an employee's financial instability has many ways it can negatively impact that employee's performance. Let's take a closer look at ten ways money problems can hamper your team's ability to get their jobs done efficiently and effectively.

Productivity suffers

An employee dealing with money issues likely has a lot on their mind. If they're worried about paying off credit card bills or how they're going to pay the next utility payment, it can enable them to lose focus on their work tasks at hand. This has a chance to severely impact their ability to remain productive at work. One study found that employees with money stress can lose almost two weeks of productivity at work on an annual basis.

Your team members are most productive when they have a clear mind. Sure, some employees have the ability to multi-task, concentrating on multiple activities in one time frame. But something as disconcerting as financial problems can have an incredibly draining effect on the ability to continue working.  

Problems with an employee's finances can be long-lasting, cyclical, or both. In other words: it may be a long-term problem that the employee continually needs to deal with. All of the physical impacts listed above can happen on a recurring basis, giving the employee an even harder time making it through consecutive workdays.

It can lead to health issues

Money problems lead to stress. It's inevitable. An employee going through some sort of financial instability is likely to feel that pressure even when they're not at home. That stress will bleed over into the workplace. According to the American Psychological Association, money is typically the most common cause of stress among many Americans.

Mental health isn't the only component of wellness someone with money troubles needs to worry about. The added stress of financial instability can absolutely have physical effects on a person, particularly if it's prolonged. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that dealing with "chronic" stress has the ability to lead to dangerous impacts on a person's body:

"Coping with the impact of chronic stress can be challenging. Because the source of long-term stress is more constant than acute stress, the body never receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning. With chronic stress, those same lifesaving reactions in the body can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability."

It can "spoil the bunch"

You know the expression: "one rotten apple spoils the bunch." While it's important to treat your employees as individuals, the fact is that if one member of your team is going through a rough patch financially, that unease can bleed over into the employee's work life. Any negativity the employee then brings into the workplace can affect others within their sphere.

Whether it's that employee having a negative attitude due to stress or just being generally irritable due to problems in their personal life, they have the chance to significantly spoil the work experience of their colleagues. This can lead to performance issues with not just the affected employee, but others on their team as well.

Increased workday distractions

If your employee is dealing with creditors, debtors, or other people contacting them about their money issues, they may receive multiple calls throughout the day. Time spent dealing with these individuals is time not spent handling their work. These are also added stressors that just increase some of the aforementioned problems mentioned earlier. It may lead them to miss important meetings or appointments. This can be harmful whether it's missing internal meetings with your team or impacting customer service.  

Job insecurity

When money is tight, it makes sense that you'd want to establish more income sources. This may lead your employee to take on a second job or start freelancing on the side. While there's nothing inherently wrong about this - many people have hobbies that take up their spare time - the issue arises when the side gig begins taking precedence over the full time job. You’re then essentially competing with another employer for your employee’s time.

Constant salary renegotiation

An employee in need of some fast cash may want to constantly renegotiate the terms of their salary in an attempt to earn more. This isn't due to them providing more value than they previously had to the organization, but is borne simply out of personal need. While the employee's issues outside the workplace aren't technically your problem, asking for more money has the potential to really disrupt your workflow.

As a leader or manager, you'll have to take time to meet with them to explain why a pay bump isn't possible. It can lead to a disgruntled employee who doesn't feel appropriately valued - even if the initial request isn't fair on their part.

Increased absenteeism

Finally, dealing with financial issues can distract your employees to the point where they're unable or, at times, unwilling to respond to calls, texts, or emails from work. Obviously, employers should honor personal time outside normal business hours, but on occasion, an emergency may arise where after-hours contact is needed.

Financial issues can derail an employee from getting to work and leave you short-staffed. We’ve seen instances where an employee can’t get to work because they don’t have enough money for gas to get to work.


Financial instability can take an incredible toll on your workforce. It can leave them feeling unhealthy, worried, and distracted. Because this has the ability to affect their work performance, it's on you as their employer to see where you can step in to help them tackle these challenges head-on. The faster they can put those issues behind them, the faster they can get back to being the wonderful employee you hired in the first place.

Partner with Branch to help your team receive instant access to their earned wages. Help them so they can do a better job of helping your company complete its mission without having to worry about their finances. To learn more, request your free demo below!

See how Branch works

Continue reading