Achieve financial well-being through workplace financial literacy!

November 1, 2017

By Jane Rooney, Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader

Welcome to the first week of Financial Literacy Month! Our theme for this week is: Achieve financial well-being. 

Did you know that financial well-being can help boost your health and work performance?

Research has shown that money is the leading cause of stress among Canadian adults. A 2014 survey by the Financial Planning Standards Council found that 42 percent of Canadians rank money as their greatest source of stress – higher than work, health or family obligations! And this stress isn’t something an employee can tuck away in a drawer. 

A 2016 study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found financial stress can affect everything from attendance, to turnover, to morale. One study estimates the cost of financial stress to Canadian employers at $16 billion.

The good news is, greater financial literacy – which we define as the knowledge, skills and confidence to make informed financial decisions – has been shown to reduce stress, thereby improving mental and physical health, and increasing workplace productivity.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC) own research and consultations have shown that financial literacy tools and training are best delivered to Canadians “where they are at” and “where they spend time.”

For many adults, that’s the workplace. Research shows that, on average, Canadian workers spend 50.2 hours on work-related activities per week. That’s why at FCAC we’ve recently created a Workplace Financial Literacy working group. Its participants come from across the country and represent all sectors. The working group’s goal is to develop a best-practices framework, which will include undertaking research and participating in pilot programs.

The research and pilots will inform the development of the best-practices framework which will ultimately assist employers to offer sustainable workplace financial literacy programs.

Another reason we, at FCAC, are focusing on workplace financial literacy has to do with demographics. Millennials now make up the biggest segment of the workforce, but the research shows they need support to deal with challenges like precarious work and income volatility. 

In addition, Canadians make many financial decisions during their working life – buying a home, having a family, saving for retirement – or they experience setbacks that have a financial impact – job loss, getting separated or divorced. Offering financial education in the workplace ensures that employees have access to information when it is relevant to them. 

We are also targeting adults in the workplace to help reach their children too. We’ve learned from our research that it’s important to teach children financial literacy early and often. One of the best places children and youth can learn about money is at home, just talking with their parents. Children describe wanting to learn about money in their home. By investing time and energy in workplace financial literacy, we hope to have a positive impact on children as well. 

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, FCAC has tools to help you get started. 

Everyone can use FCAC’s online tools and resources. This month, FCAC has launched its improved account and credit card comparison tools. At this site, you will also find FCAC’s Budget Calculator, Financial Goal Calculator, mortgage calculators, and our financial literacy self-assessment quiz. FCAC’s Canadian Financial Literacy Database (CFLD) is a one-stop place where employees can find tools to learn how to manage money and debt, whether they’re thinking about buying a new home or getting ready for retirement, for example.

There’s also a page on our website specifically designed to help employers build financial literacy into their workplaces. It explains in greater detail how to get started.

Employers can leverage existing educational programs, often free of charge, which are offered by professional associations or non-profit organizations. FCAC can help to connect you to those organizations through the CFLD. The Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA), for example, offers financial literacy workshops for the workplace. FCAC has offered CPA workshops to its own employees.

Employees can also encourage their employers to host workshops and to use our website for resources on how to strengthen financial literacy in their organizations. 

In short, there is much you can do to integrate financial literacy into your workplace. Good luck and stay tuned!

 

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