If you’ve ever been paid late, underpaid, overpaid or had trouble understanding your paycheck and taxes, you’re not alone.
“82 million Americans—more than half of the U.S. workforce— have experienced a problem with their paycheck during their career,” according to a survey released today by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated .
Just as surprising: not understanding all the line items on a paycheck made workers less motivated in their jobs day to day. Not understanding “the impact of taxes and deductions” on how much workers earn has an impact on their engagement at work, the report found, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report from January 2017.
“Paying people accurately can be very complicated to do but it’s so important because of impact that it has on people,” says Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos.
Paycheck problems make you less productive
Payroll problems have taken many forms.
The survey found that 26% “of hourly workers have been paid too little,” 15% reported having “been paid late,” and 6% said they “have been overpaid.”
Having extra money gives you more flexibility, but that’s not the case for everyone.
The survey found that 58% of “workers and their families” “live paycheck to paycheck,” which is why the finding that 37% of American employees have reportedly had to “make a late payment on a bill such as their car loan, credit card, mortgage, or apartment/home rent” because of payroll problems is so concerning.
Maroney told Ladders how some payment issues arise: humans.
“A paper and pencil process is more prone to human error than one that’s automated,” Maroney said — which you would expect her to, considering that’s exactly what her company does: “Payroll professionals are serious about doing a good job— their job is easier when they have great technology to help them,” she said.
Human error is just part of the problem.
“Any manager, wherever they’re working in the world, needs to understand the relevant labor laws that apply to their situation” and “it’s also important for employees to understand what those rules are,” Maroney said.
Want to be happier? Understand your paycheck
You don’t know what you don’t know, but that could be taking a toll on you at work.
The survey found that 42% of all workers “say taxes and deductions on their paycheck are confusing to read and understand” and that 45% of American employees “say they would feel more engaged with their job if their employer helped them better understand the impact of taxes and deductions on their overall earnings.”
The survey also found that 15% of participants reported that they “do not understand their tax forms enough to even recognize an error.”
Maroney gave Ladders advice on what companies can do.
“A lot of people are perplexed by deductions on their checks, and it’s worth the employer making the effort to educate employees on how to read payroll statement so they get how much is coming out of their check and for what purposes,” Maroney said.
But not understanding finances isn’t a new phenomenon for adults in the U.S.
A 2015 NerdWallet survey of 1,015 adults in the U.S. found that “the average U.S. adult scores about 50% on personal finance questions related to U.S. federal income tax returns.” The 10-question quiz featured topics like retirement, healthcare and putting money away for college.
Unfortunately, not liking your job is also bad for business.
Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report found that “actively disengaged” workers “are more likely to steal from their company, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays and drive customers away. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.”
Understanding your what’s taken out of your paycheck and how to complete tax forms could make you feel more connected to your job. And tax season is upon us, so make this the year you really delve into understanding your taxes before April 18.
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