Many workers are stressed about their finances, and this is harming their mental health and work productivity. But this stress isn’t evenly distributed across demographics, with women and younger people bearing the brunt of the financial worries. While 32% of respondents rated their financial position as good or excellent, over a quarter worry a great deal about basic expenses like housing and food. One thing a majority of survey respondents agreed on was financial support programs from an employer would reduce stress. 

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The value of advice


Stress test: Financial worry affects employee productivity

Nearly 70% of workers say they’d be more productive with fewer financial worries

Almost 7 in 10 workers agree their financial stress impacts their productivity. And close to half stated their mental health interfered with their work at least somewhat often.

“Having a company culture where everyone feels heard and supported is a key step in creating a sustainable and thriving organization.”

Irene Lopes, AVP and HR Partner, Wealth and Asset Management, Canada Manulife Investment Management

The De-Stress Solution: Financial Wellness Advice

75% of workers say having a financial wellness program through their employer would incentivize them to stay with their current company

One key takeaway from the survey is that most people feel they would benefit from an employer-provided financial program dealing with saving, budgeting, and preparing for retirement. Employers have a real opportunity to help their team.

“Financial wellness programs can help employees feel more financially confident. And by supporting employees better, the entire organization can become more empowered.”

Isroth Zuberi, Director, Transition and Retirement Solutions, Canada Retirement


Under pressure: Persistent mental stress and work

Half of all workers surveyed said they feel stressed often or all of the time

Almost ⅓ of employees also responded saying they’ve experienced feelings of loneliness and depression over the last year, in addition to feelings of financial stress.

The paradox of financial stress

Almost two out of three employees say they are in a good financial situation – but this is not reflected in stress levels

Despite financial situations improving for many survey respondents since the 2020 financial stress survey, twice as many people reported major general or financial stress during the pandemic.

“The same way we might turn to a personal trainer to improve our physical health or a counsellor to support our mental wellbeing, financial advisors can help us build a foundation for good financial health.”

Leo Zerilli, Head of Wealth and Asset Management, Canada Manulife Investment Management


Retirement: Mind the gap

Three in Five workers are on track to retire when they originally planned or earlier

But a whole ⅓ of workers report they are far behind where they need to be for retirement. This shows a growing gap between retirement readiness in workers.

“Many employees feel uncertain about reaching their retirement goals which can unfortunately lead to financial stress. Our survey shows having the right partner to support retirement and wellness programs is an important part to help employees feel more in control of their financial futures.”

Brett Marchand, Head of Retirement, Canada Manulife Investment Management

Financial Stress and the demographic divide

Women and younger people stand out among the 25% of people who report experiencing financial stress.

There is a distinct gap in the demographics experiencing the worst of the mental strain caused by finances. Where women and people under 36 were stressed, men and those with a financial plan or employer financial wellness program were likely to describe their financial situation as good or excellent.

"Financial stress is not felt equally by everyone. Women, younger Canadians, and those with assets under $100,000 are all more likely to experience persistent financial anxieties.”

Camille Stewart, Global Head of Retirement Marketing and Member Retention

Debt relief – but only for some

Debt has improved for nearly 50% of Canadians – but it is a problem for nearly a quarter

Another indicator of the growing divide in financial positions is the amount of debt employees have. Generally speaking, respondents were able to reduce their debt during the pandemic. But for a quarter who were disproportionately affected, debt remains a problem – and for some got even worse since 2020.

Not business as usual - the next frontier is a healthy organization

While the financial stress impacts every Canadian at different levels, one thing is clear – it is prevalent, made worse by the pandemic, and impacts employees at their work. Ongoing mental health challenges remain a struggle for many, especially among certain demographics like women and younger people. But there’s good news – employers can help. A majority agree a workplace financial wellness program would reduce stress and improve productivity.

These are only some of the findings from our survey. Interested in learning more about how financial stress is impacting employees? Download our full whitepaper here.

Get in touch with your Manulife representative.