A new study shows that millennials are far more likely to spend hours at work concerned about their financial stress than their older colleagues. About 67% of millennials say financial stress overtakes their ability to focus and be productive at work, according to a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits. That's more than twice as likely as baby boomers — 32% of whom worry about the same thing.
The younger generation also spends an average of four hours a week at work focusing on their finances — twice that of Generation Xers and four times the amount of time as baby boomers.
The impact doesn't stop at productivity in the workplace. More than half of millennials, 68%, said financial stress has had a negative effect on their physical health. (Fifty-one percent of baby boomers said the same.)
"Stress can wreak havoc on productivity and an employee's health," Lisa Margeson, head of Retirement Client Experience & Communications at Bank of AMerica Merrill Lynch, told Money.
And the younger generation has reason to be stressed. Millennials have entered the work force amid a tough economy with a slow wage-growth rate and increasingly high costs of living. In fact, millennials today earn about 20% less than the previous generation did at the same point, according to a 2016 report from the New York City comptroller's office.
"Millennials are most likely to feel the burden of juggling near-term priorities (i.e., student debt, budgeting), while saving for long-term goals for the first time," Margeson said.
But other generations still worry about their finances, according to the report, which surveyed 1,200 employees with 401(k) plans at a variety of workplaces across the country. Overall, Bank of America found that 56% of all employees are stressed about their financial situation, and 53% of those who are stressed say it interferes with their careers.
The Bank of America report also found that people hope their employers can help them manage their finances. That can be done through a regular financial review, a financial education course or bringing in professionals to give sessions to employees on managing student debt repayment or other money management strategies.
"Having access to educational content that is personalized and relevant, along with access to professionals that can help their employees navigate their financial lives, creates a culture for wellness, not dissimilar from what many companies do now around their healthcare benefits," Margeson said.