financial literacy in the workplace

The case for teaching financial literacy in the workplace

Financial literacy has been a hot topic for several years now, with schools across the country now integrating financial literacy programming into their curriculum. But while youth are improving their financial literacy skills at school, an important group of people who could benefit from financial literacy education have been forgotten: adults in the workplace.

According to a survey by the Canadian Payroll Association, 84 per cent of employees would be interested in obtaining financial education programming in the workplace. The survey, which polled more than 5,000 employees across Canada, found that, among those respondents who want financial education in the workplace, 40 per cent cited planning and saving for the future as their preferred topics. But perhaps most importantly, nearly half (46 per cent) of all respondents said financial stress impacts their workplace performance.

Poor financial well-being is a growing problem in the workplace, impacting performance, health and absenteeism rates.

A separate survey by Willis Towers Watson found that 23 per cent of respondents identified themselves as struggling. Among that group, almost half said that worries about finances were preventing them from performing their best at work. Presenteeism is also an issue, with only 29 per cent of the struggling group reporting they’re fully engaged at work compared to 42 per cent of employees without money concerns.

More than 70 per cent of this group also reported higher than average stress, while 33 per cent said their health was poor and the rates of absenteeism were higher among struggling employees. Among the employees without financial concerns, only 36 per cent said they were more stressed than average and 14 per cent categorized their health as poor.

Stress related to financial well-being has a major impact on the workforce. When employees experience stress about their financial affairs, they may become less engaged and productive, making it harder for organizations to reach their goals.

Several recent articles have suggested that providing staff with financial wellness tools, education and resources will lead to less financial stress and better outcomes for the employee and for the organization. As well, investing in an employee’s career well-being through methods such as clear career paths, flexible work and compensation plans will enhance the chances of keeping employees, as well as attracting new ones.

While some companies are starting to offer programs to help employees address financial wellness, Canadian employers have only scratched the surface.

National literacy organization ABC Life Literacy Canada is hoping to change that by encouraging more employers to provide financial literacy training for their staff. The charity offers a free financial literacy program, entitled ABC Money Matters, available in English and French to employers, community groups and literacy organizations across the country.

ABC Money Matters’ core program offers five topics to choose from – spending plans, banking basics, borrowing money, ways to save and smart shopping. Host employers can choose to run workshops around any or all of the four topics. Each workshop offers training materials written in clear language for adult learners.

Workshops can be delivered by employers themselves, or in some instances, TD volunteers are available to help facilitate the sessions. TD Bank Group, through its corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment, is the founding sponsor of ABC Money Matters.

Research and evaluation findings from the program indicate that ABC Money Matters is well-positioned to support learners in building financial confidence and developing key money management skills that can advance their financial well-being, particularly with respect to saving regularly.

To sign your company up to host a workshop, or for more information, visit