The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

153: The Link between Financial Insecurity and Work Performance with Jirs Meuris

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A 2019 survey by PwC found that more employees than ever admitted to being stressed about their finances. It’s no surprise with 6 out of 10 US adults holding credit card debt (with nearly 2 in 5 carrying this debt from month to month) and 4 in 10 adults in America unable to cover a $400 emergency.  

As a response to these stats, many organizations are now rolling out financial wellness programs, opting to educate their employees on a wide variety of topics – from building an emergency savings to retirement. But is financial education on a wide variety of topics the way to go? According to today’s guest, Jirs Meuris, research doesn’t back this up.

Jirs Meuris is an Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources and a faculty affiliate at the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Financial Security at the Wisconsin School of Business (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Jirs looks at how work shapes people’s personal finances and the resulting consequences for individuals, organizations, and society. 

In this interview, Jirs walks us through his research across different industries, including a study that’s not yet published. He explains why financial education doesn’t work and offers thoughts on what we should do instead. This interview will definitely help you if you are having trouble making a case for bringing financial wellness solutions to your organization.

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Interview highlights (with timestamps):
  • [4:45] Jirs’s research on financial insecurity and performance.
  • [9:52] His newest research (not yet published) that studied people’s day to day experience.
  • [13:11] The internal differentiator between people who are more likely to appraise negative financial events as threats to their personal welfare.
  • [18:11] How Jirs was able to link 1.3 million in direct costs to financial worry.
  • [23:55] The relationship between financial stress and first year of college performance.
  • [28:02] Financial education doesn’t work. Jirs tells us why and what to do instead.
  • [34:50] His advice for wellness pros.
  • [38:33] What he’s learned from his research across many different populations.
Mentioned in this episode:

@JirsMeuris

His talk at WCWI

Full Bio:

Jirs Meuris is an Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources and a faculty affiliate at the Institute for Research on Poverty and the Center for Financial Security at the Wisconsin School of Business (University of Wisconsin-Madison). 

Jirs looks at how work shape people’s personal finances and the resulting consequences for individuals, organizations, and society. He has conducted this research in collaboration with a variety of organizations including companies in the healthcare, finance, and transportation industries. 

Jirs’ work has been published in the Academy of Management Annals, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Organization Science, and Research in Organizational Behavior. His work has also been featured in numerous media outlets including The Atlantic, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Bankrate.com and been interviewed by television (WTV Live at Four), radio (Marketplace (NPR)WMTJWisconsin Public Radio, WSUM), and print (UW Update magazine) media. 

Jirs is regularly invited to speak on financial wellness and other human resource management topics at professional events across the country.

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