This blog post is provided by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), a government agency that ensures federally regulated financial entities comply with consumer protection measures, promotes financial education and raises consumers' awareness of their rights and responsibilities.

When issues arise with employees, there is often more to the story than meets the eye. Frequently, poor performance, absenteeism, low morale and low productivity are symptoms of a much bigger problem. And it may not be what you think.

It may surprise you to learn that Canadians have ranked money their greatest source of stress — higher than work, health or family obligations, according to a 2014 survey by the Financial Planning Standards Council.  Money stress can affect not only mental and physical health, but work performance and an organization's bottom line. Canadians make many financial decisions during their working life — buying a home, having a family, saving for retirement. They also experience setbacks that have a financial impact — job loss, getting separated or divorced, career change.

The good news is there's a simple way to address financial stress that will benefit both employees and their employers: financial literacy. Offering financial education in the workplace ensures that employees have access to information when it is relevant to them. And by improving their knowledge, skills and confidence around money, employees will be better able to manage debt, save for emergencies and plan for their retirement.

The employer will also benefit. Research shows financial literacy in the workplace can lead to:

  • Better health    
  • Increased employee retention, morale, productivity and profits
  • Lower absenteeism and health care costs

To start, employers can direct their employees to the FCAC's online resources. There, employees can find everything from account and credit card comparison tools, to a budget calculator, a financial goal calculator, and mortgage calculators, and a financial literacy self-assessment quiz. They will also find the Canadian Financial Literacy Database, a one-stop place where employees can find resources and events to learn how to manage their money, whether they're thinking about buying a new home or getting ready for retirement, for example.

There's even a page specifically designed for employers, to help them build financial literacy into their workplaces.

Not ready to offer workplace financial literacy sessions yourself? There are also several existing educational programs, often free of charge, offered through professional associations or non-profit organizations in Canada. The Chartered Professional Accountants Canada, for example, offers financial literacy workshops by volunteer accountants on a variety of topics.

Employers may want to look at financial literacy as one aspect of a broader mental and physical wellness plan. Any increase in workplace financial literacy will pay dividends by helping employees leave some of their money worries behind and allow them to be more engaged when they're at work.