FINANCIAL BY DENISE NORBERG-JOHNSON
Last month, I discussed “normal” attitudes about money. Simply, people want
more of it, regardless of how much has
already been accumulated. Money represents happiness, security and success.
As an electrical contractor, your personal
attitudes about money affect your executive decisions, but that’s only the tip of the
iceberg. The financial attitudes and beliefs
of each electrician, project manager, executive and staffer you employ also affect
your profitability and productivity.
Vocational training programs increasingly embrace subjects other than the
technical training needed to perform on-site electrical work. High schools offer
personal finance courses, especially in
economically challenged districts. People
need to know how to manage the money
they earn, and most of us are doing a poor
job of saving it. Employees and employers drive the entire economy.
It is your responsibility to educate
your employees, because their degree of
financial security influences their level of
loyalty, ethical behavior and alignment
with your profit goals. A small investment in workshops, online classes or
coaching can pay big dividends in motivation and engagement.
Our unhealthy attitudes toward
money often cause us to make poor
financial decisions. Meanwhile, psychologists who specialize in financial therapy
publish research about the connection
between well-being and personal financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.
A study published several years ago
in The Journal of Financial Therapy
identified four basic attitudes that can
negatively affect personal financial
choices. Professor Brad Klontz, a clini-
cal psychologist in Hawaii specializing
in financial therapy, said people need
to identify the unconscious “money
scripts” that develop during childhood.
Family beliefs about money run through
multiple generations, and they can limit
potential and have catastrophic effects
on finances and lives unless they are
challenged. These are the four harmful
money personality types:
• Money worship is the belief that
more income or a financial windfall
will solve all problems. It's the most
common attitude among Americans.
Klontz attributes this to the baby
boomers’ reaction to the extreme frugality of their parents, who survived
the Great Depression. Children either
emulate extreme parental attitudes or
do the opposite, and both approaches
are dysfunctional. Money worshippers
tend to carry more revolving debt.
• Money status links self-worth to net
worth. People who believe money is
a status symbol are more likely to be
young, single and less educated and
have less wealth.
• Money vigilance is associated with
the miserly person who is secretive
about finances and extremely wary of
spending. These individuals are often
financially secure but do not allow
themselves to enjoy their money. The
most extreme will underspend and
even hoard money.
• Money avoidance is likely to bring on
feelings of fear, anxiety or disgust, especially in younger, single or low-income
people. They believe money is bad or
that they do not deserve to have it.
The “Stress in America” survey
Unhealthy attitudes about money
in August 2014 by the Harris Poll organi-
zation for the American Psychological
Association—revealed that 72 percent of
respondents are sometimes stressed about
money, 22 percent experienced extreme
stress during the previous month, and 26
percent feel stressed about money most
or all of the time. Money is a taboo sub-
ject for 18 percent of the participants, and
36 percent are uncomfortable discussing
it. More significant levels of stress were
caused by money ( 64 percent) than work
( 60 percent), the economy ( 49 percent),
family responsibilities ( 47 percent) or
health issues ( 46 percent). Women report
higher levels of stress than men and feel it
more often. Parents and younger genera-
tions feel the least financially secure.
Your employees are losing sleep
over money. The National Foundation
of Credit Counseling Financial Literacy
Opinion Index conducted a survey on its
website ( www.debtadvice.org) that 2,148
people completed through July 2014.
Nearly 80 percent of the respondents
reported that their personal finances
interfered with sleep.
A March 2014 Harris Poll of 2,016
Americans found that 71 percent worried
about finances, especially inadequate
savings, job issues, debt and credit.
These unhealthy attitudes about
money, stress and sleep deprivation
related to finances can affect employee
More studies confirm the relationship
between employee personal financial
issues and their work performance. Next
month, we’ll look at some ways to increase
the financial literacy of your employees,
reduce their stress levels, and increase
their engagement, loyalty and productiv-
ity as well as your profitability.
THIS IS THE CHINESE YEAR OF THE MONKEY, which represents playfulness,
creativity, honor, luck, God and riches. Since attitudes and beliefs affect wealth building, my 2016 columns will include topics such as behavioral finance, spiritual finance
and other areas of study that reveal how deeply our financial status is connected to
factors other than spreadsheets and statements.
NORBERG-J OHNSO N is a former subcontractor and past president of two national
construction associations. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. SH