How Employers should help Employees with Debt Problems

“Bad things happen to good people,” is a maxim used by car dealers, not employers.

Employers do not want debt-ridden employees. Employers spend millions of dollars every year performing background checks, credit checks and reference checks to ensure they keep their company free from people who desperately need a job.

Do Not Apply Here

Applicants with bankruptcies, poor credit scores, legal issues and other signs of past financial problems need not apply because employers do not want to take any unnecessary risks. After all, anyone who has bad credit will probably steal, right?

Anyone who has every been denied work because of past financial problems knows that employment has become a privilege of people who have never experienced messy divorces, major illnesses and sticky circumstances that left them high and dry with no way to pay bills.

A Kinder, Gentler Employer

Employers with strict hiring practices do not always understand when their employees experience reversals. After all, if a bankruptcy keeps applicants out in the streets, why should a bankruptcy filed by an employee receive better treatment? Employers around the country routinely choose to layoff their most unstable workers. In right-to-work states, employers do not even need cover because employers can terminate workers without disclosing a reason.

Workplaces may soon become friendlier to staff members who develop debt problems. Forbes now highlights the need for employers to provide ways to assist employees with financial matters. This kinder, gentler approach could provide educational opportunities, counseling and peer support for people who have financial problems. The new movement to pressure employers to help, rather than terminate, employees could help reduce stress in the workplace.

Low Workplace Stress

A company that provides employers with contract financial counseling services for employees reports that financial stress in the workplace could have reached an all-time low recently. The company found that one-third of all workers were stressed out because of their personal financial situations in 2009 and 2010. That number dropped to less than one-fifth of employees in 2011. Meanwhile, the number of employees who reported no financial stress at all rose to 16 percent in 2011, despite the nation’s continuing economic woes.

Reading Between the Lines

Although paid employee advocates likely attribute the improved financial health of employees to employer-provided financial counseling programs, the news may tell a grim tale between the lines. Those numbers, in light of increasing numbers of unemployed workers, suggest that employers have culled their herds of financially-insecure workers.

A historically small portion of the population had jobs in 2011, and a historically large number of workers were unemployed. When employers choose to eliminate debt-ridden employees as part of cost-cutting measures, the numbers that show less financial stress in the workplace make sense.

According to Investor’s Business Daily, official unemployment numbers have been skewed to reflect a decreasing number. The government disregards nearly 3 million unemployed workers when it tallies its statistics. The newspaper decries the inaccurate “headline” unemployment figures and highlights the bipartisan effort to compel the U.S. Department of Labor to disclose accurate employment numbers.