How Financial Stress Can Hurt Your Career

Dave Edwards knows that financial worries can make employees less productive at work. He's seen it happen.

Edwards, president of New York City's Heron Financial Group, once hired an employee who had racked up massive amounts of debt. Edwards, not surprisingly, gave the employee plenty of guidance on gradually erasing that debt. The problem? The employee became obsessed with his debt. He spent hours each workday viewing his bank account and transferring balances from one credit card to the next.

As a result, the employee was no longer producing quality work. Edwards says he had no choice but to fire him.

"I gave him three warnings," Edwards says. "But it got to the point where he was no longer functioning at work. I needed him to get his personal life under control so that he could do the job I was paying him to do. He couldn't do it, so I had to take action."

Edwards isn't alone. Employers commonly struggle with workers who are too distracted by financial worries to be productive at work. A total of 70 percent of human resource executives in a new study by the Society for Human Resource Management said that they have seen financial worries have a large or at least some negative impact on employees at their companies.

The good news? Employers and employees can each take steps to make sure that financial worries don't torpedo workers' job performance.

Financial stress at work

Shawn Gilfedder, president and chief executive officer of East Windsor, N.J.-based McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union -- the financial institution that sponsored the Society for Human Resource Management study -- says that employers shouldn't be surprised when their workers let financial fears drag down their on-the-job performance. It's not easy for workers to concentrate on invoices and spreadsheets when they're worried about paying their rent.