Employers slowly recognizing financial stress among workers

Employers in Tennessee want their workers focused on their duties, but stress caused by financial problems, like debt and medical bills, has emerged as a considerable source of distraction. When the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans surveyed companies, 70 percent of them cited financial issues as their employees' top source of stress.

A 2017 poll of 1,600 full-time workers at the accounting firm PwC revealed that over half of the staff harbored concerns about money. A human resources company that looked at the aggregated results of employee financial stress estimated that it reduced productivity and cost businesses nationwide about $250 billion annually.

As awareness grows among employers of the burdens faced by their employees, a handful of companies have chosen to adopt employee benefit programs meant to alleviate financial stress. Employer-sponsored programs have been developed to help employees cope with medical bills, student loan debt or other money emergencies. One service evaluates medical bills for errors and tries to negotiate a discounted settlement in exchange for timely payment. Some companies vet programs that enable people to access debt consolidation loans. A few employers offer pay advances that are repaid by payroll deductions so that employees can avoid the high costs of payday loan companies.

Although the efforts of a few organizations to help people cope with financial hardship represent good intentions, they might be insufficient to resolve the problems of serious debt. When someone loses the ability to meet living expenses and pay loans or medical bills, bankruptcy might be the path forward. An attorney could evaluate a person's income and debts to determine if a Chapter 7 filing might discharge burdensome debts.

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