Stress, finances, and well-being: driving behaviours that matter

Our third annual survey of Canadian workers reveals how they’re coping in this economic climate—and support that makes a difference.

Economic conditions are causing financial stress

Rising interest rates, soaring inflation, and current economic conditions are causing financial stress. Almost three-quarters of Canadian workers are concerned about their level of financial stress.

A chart that show economic concerns : 70% worry a great deal about the economy, 61% worry about inflation/increasing cost of living, 46% worry about rising interest rates, 42% worry about current economic conditions .  A chart that shows changes in spending habits: 	77% are being more deliberate with purchases,  64% are comparing costs,  46% are postponing large purchases,  26% are only buying essentials

Workers are feeling the weight of their personal finances

People want to be able to save money, plan for retirement, and pay off debt—but many are falling behind on all three.

Top 5 financial worries


Credit card debt


Emergency savings


Having enough saved for retirement


Repaying student loans


Overall financial situation

Financial stress among workers is a real cost for employers

As much as people try to keep their personal and work lives separate, many find it hard to leave their financial concerns at the door. And this added distraction is affecting job performance—making financial stress both a business concern and a real cost.

A chart that shows personal finances are taking up time at work: 4 in 5 worry about their finances at work,  2.4 hours spent on finances at work each month , 1 in 2 of those who worry say they’d be more productive if they weren’t so stressed
A chart that shows absenteeism and lost productivity cost employers $1,786 per year per employee. Small business (10-100 employees): $17,860 to $178,600. Medium business (101-499 employees): $180,386 to $891,214. Large business (500+ employees): $893,000 plus

Helping workers manage their financial lives benefits employers, too 

People want help traveling the road to financial well-being—82% say it’s important for employers to offer financial wellness resources.


say access to these resources reduces financial stress


would be more likely to stay with an employer who offers them


would recommend the employer to others


say access to these resources increases productivity

Greater engagement is connected to stronger financial health

Workers’ responses confirmed what we’ve long believed—receiving support that encourages positive saving and investing behaviours truly makes a difference.

Those who have a financial advisor are:

  • In a better financial situation
  • More likely to feel good about their mental health 
  • Having an easier time saving money
  • More likely to be on track to retire
  • Less likely to worry about affording basic expenses in retirement

Digital interactions help fuel financial preparedness 


of respondents use a desktop computer or a mobile app to access their retirement information each month (or more often).

Most prefer to manage many retirement tasks online instead of with a service representative.

Want to learn more about financial stress and the opportunity for group retirement plan sponsors, advisors, and providers?

Download the full report

This year’s survey was conducted with 1,551 Canadians using Angus Reid’s research panel. The survey was conducted in English and French from November 28, 2022, to December 8, 2022, with an average survey length of approximately 17 minutes per respondent. Survey respondents were age 18 and up, were employed, and contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Differences in trend data from the prior year are noted throughout the report. Due to a change in the panel partner, sample composition, and questionnaire content, not all data can be trended. The maximum margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level is ±2.3%. Percentages in the tables and charts may not total 100 due to rounding and/or categories not included. The 2022 Stress, finances, and well-being survey was commissioned by Manulife and John Hancock Retirement and conducted by Edelman DXI. Manulife is not affiliated with Edelman DXI and neither is responsible for the liabilities of the other. The commentary in this publication is for general information only and should not be considered legal, financial, or tax advice to any party. Individuals should seek the advice of professionals to ensure that any action taken with respect to this information is appropriate to their specific situation. 

The cost of stress is a hypothetical illustration used for informational purposes only, based on data from Manulife’s 2022 stress, finances, and well-being survey. This calculation is intended to provide general information about how much financial stress can cost a company every year. The calculation is based on missing 5.6 hours/year and 28.8 hours/year of lost productivity due to symptoms of financial stress with an assumed salary of $51.92/hour. Individual circumstances may vary: the example may not be reflective of your situation.