Why homeownership might not be the best choice for your employees

Written by
Peter Dunn

Did you ever think that your employee’s house is the reason his work has been suffering?

Surely not, right? Isn’t homeownership the realization of the American dream—one of the ultimate financial end-goals? Doesn’t homeownership automatically mean you’re happier, more productive and more inclined to work harder so you can stay in your home?

If you’re a homeowner, you sense the sarcasm in those questions. Yes, homeownership can be a rewarding and fulfilling adventure (and it is definitely an adventure), but it can also become a source of financial stress for your employees. And you know from previous posts—and from personal experience—that when your employees are stressed, it negatively affects your business in a number of ways.

More than likely, ever since your employees moved out of their parents’ homes, they’ve been fed the same line: “Renting is throwing your money away. You need to buy a house as soon as possible.” That’s a damaging bit of conventional “wisdom” that usually results in people buying a home they can’t quite afford.

Chances are you have some employees who bought a home before they were ready and are now paying more than 40% of their income toward their house. If they were adhering to an ideal budget, they would be spending no more than 25% of their income on housing. In other words, they’re “overhoused.”

Employees who are overhoused will inevitably experience financial stress that can lead to:

· Depression

· Presenteeism

· Decreased productivity

· A desire to push their raise schedule

· Attempts to get a second job, which could adversely affect their performance

The problem is, your overhoused employees probably don’t know that they’re overhoused. They might think that the stress they feel is typical of homeownership; that it’s the price they pay for living the American dream. That's where they're wrong; and that’s where you can help.

As a human resource professional, you can help your employees become financially well by providing them with the resources they need to get out of debt, and out of their debilitating house payment. By bringing in a financial wellness adviser to talk through budgeting strategies for decreasing the amount of money they spend on housing, you can help them realize that financial wellness is achieved by needing less, not affording more.

As a result, their house will become less of a burden and more of a point of pride. And everyone lives happily ever after, the end.

Step up your financial wellness game.

Stay up-to-date with the latest in employee wellbeing from the desk of Pete the Planner®. Subscribe to the monthly newsletter to get industry insights and proven strategies on how to be the wellness champion your team wants you to be.