There is a good chance your employees are spending their days worrying about their own bottom line, more so than your company's.

Concerns and stress about personal finances are distracting U.S. employees during working hours, affecting their job performance and potentially weakening company productivity, according to a new study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

The research revealed that 70 percent of human resources professionals believe that personal financial challenges have an impact on their employees' performance, while 40 percent said an overall lack of funds to cover personal expenses is affecting employees in their companies.

Overall, the study found that 40 percent of employees face more personal finance challenges now compared with the onset of the recession in 2007. In addition, employees were more likely to request a loan from retirement savings or a hardship withdrawal from retirement savings during the past 12 months compared to previous years.

"With the influence that financial challenges have on employees and their performance, the survey suggests that employers will find value in offering financial education to their workforce," said Bruce Elliott, SHRM's manager of compensation and benefits.

Human resources professionals who took part in the study said baby boomers and Generation X are the populations most likely to participate in financial education programs. 

"Business leaders should be troubled that many of our nation's workers continue to face financial hardships and related stress, especially during working hours," said Shawn Gilfedder, president and CEO of the McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union, which sponsored the SHRM survey. "Companies can and should take action to help employees effectively address their financial concerns, which will help improve the lives of workers and their families and also help strengthen company performance."

Gilfedder suggests companies consider a number of actions that can help to reduce employee financial stress, enhance employee retention, build loyalty and, ultimately, improve company productivity and performance:

*Employers should offer employees financial education programs and make financial wellness a vital component of organizational culture.

*Financial wellness initiatives should be provided as part of a package that includes employee health and wellness programs, to maximize benefits for individuals and organizations.

*Financial wellness programs should be customized to address the specific needs of different generations of workers (i.e., baby boomer, Generation X and millennials).

*One-on-one financial counseling, financial and retirement planning, and debt restructuring services should be key parts of every employer's financial wellness program.

The study was based on surveys of 401 HR professionals with the title of assistant director or above who are members of the SHRM.

Originally published on Business News Daily