Press Release

Australian employees getting more stressed as money pressures mount, Willis Towers Watson survey finds

Biennial survey reveals employees’ financial worries are negatively impacting both personal and work lives.

May 15, 2018
| Australia

MELBOURNE, 15 May, 2018 — A quarter of the total Australian workforce is performing below its best because of financial concerns, according to a new survey by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.

The 2017/2018 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey found that 50% of Australian employees with current financial concerns say their worries keep them from doing their best at work, and would move to a new job if they could find one. Rates of absenteeism and presenteeism among these workers are high.

David McNeice, Senior Consultant in the Human Capital and Benefits team at Willis Towers Watson said potential turnover levels and productivity of these workers are major issues for employers.

He commented: “For any employer, the survey raises two action points. They need to consider the stress levels in their own organisation and the extent of the problem, and identify mitigating strategies to reduce that stress.”

Among the other findings – 28% of Australian employees agree they have no significant savings and are living from payday to payday. McNeice said: “Their financial resilience is low and perhaps limited wage growth in Australia is being felt.

“A significant proportion of the workforce is worried about finances; 51% have significant worries about their current financial state and 41% have significant worries about their future financial state. When we look at the trend from our previous survey in 2015, these numbers are getting slightly worse, despite economic conditions being relatively benign, with low interest rates, low inflation, low unemployment and high asset prices.”

Retirement security is also a more important issue and is not limited to older demographics. McNeice said: “For 66% of the workforce, retirement security has become a more important issue over the last two to three years and this is felt across the generations – not just limited to Boomers.

“Those with higher financial stress believe that they will not be able to retire until after age 70. There is evidence of a cohort of ‘hidden pensioners’ emerging – those that are stressed, or otherwise have low sustainable engagement, yet unable to retire until much later than has been the norm.

“The ongoing financial worries that are plaguing so many employees are taking a toll on their financial confidence, impacting not only the personal lives of the employees, but also negatively affects their behaviour at work, particularly their productivity, engagement and physical and mental health.” 

“Employers also understand the huge impact of financial worries on their employees, and many think they should take an active role in encouraging their employees to manage their personal finances better,” added McNeice. In fact, many Australian employees (39%) would like their employers to offer tools that provide suggestions on how they can improve their financial situation. 

Other findings from the Global Benefits Attitudes Survey:

  • Only 37% of employees do budgeting on a regular basis; however, the 18% who don’t budget, but instead actively monitor, have even higher financial confidence.  Providing tools that could be valuable for the 63% who don’t budget should be a key objective.
  • Only two in five APAC employees are confident they’ll have sufficient resources 25 years into retirement while more than half (55%) are confident they’ll have enough resources 15 years in retirement. Both figures are down from 2015. 

About the Global Benefits Attitudes Survey

The Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey measured attitudes of over 30,000 private sector employees in 22 countries — including 9,468 responses from Asia Pacific, specifically from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Philippines and Singapore. The survey was conducted in July and August 2017.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has more than 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at