Financial anxiety shifted The Great Resignation to The Great Return and is reshaping expectations for benefits.
In its third year, Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker Study found that two-thirds of American workers (66%) are experiencing negative effects from the current economic environment. Nearly a third (30%) say it’s affecting their sleep, a quarter (25%) report strained relationships and nearly a quarter (22%) feel distracted at work.
“With the stress of a potential recession on the horizon, it’s critical for employers to check in with their employees to see how they’re feeling and offer comprehensive, personalized support,” said Yaqub Ahmed, Head of U.S. Retirement, Insurance & 529 at Franklin Templeton. “Providing employees with a network of resources in times of uncertainty may help improve wellness across all dimensions – financial, physical and mental – ultimately, enhancing productivity at work.”
The current economic climate is accelerating financial stress and fueling employee retention.
As American workers grapple with economic uncertainty, the percentage of workers highly stressed by their financial health is up 7% year-over-year from 35% to 42%. Data indicates that the increased financial stress has transformed The Great Resignation into The Great Return with two-thirds of workers (66%) reporting that the current economic environment encourages them to stay with their current employer with the vast majority (89%) likely to stay at their current job for the next year. Almost half of American workers (47%) know someone in their company who got their old job back after leaving in the last five years.
Despite concerns about retirement preparedness and job security, 81% of workers reported their primary financial goal is financial independence or having enough income or wealth to pay their living expenses without having to be employed or dependent on others. Paying off credit card debt had the largest year-over-year increase on the list of financial concerns jumping 7%.
Employees are delaying and shifting retirement plans and saving strategies.
With the current economic situation, the planned retirement age has moved back three years, from age 62 to 65, and six in 10 American workers (61%) feel their retirement plans are in jeopardy. Further, 73% of employees report that soaring living expenses have changed the way they envisioned their retirement.
Most Americans (58%) plan to work in some fashion during their retirement, an increase of 6% from two years ago.
American workers seek more personalized support from employers.
Eight in 10 American workers (82%) believe their employer should increase salary and benefit offerings to address rising inflation, and 70% would like more holistic benefit options to better assess their progress toward financial goals in the current economic climate.
It is clear that personalization and customization go a long way when it comes to American workers’ retirement savings behaviors, with three-quarters (77%) stating they’d be more likely to participate or contribute more to their retirement savings if there were more personalized 401(k) investment options.
“Now more than ever, employers have an opportunity to retain top talent by offering their employees comprehensive financial wellness tools and personalized solutions,” added Jacque Reardon, Head of Client Experience for Retirement, Insurance, 529 and Wealth Management at Franklin Templeton.
The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Franklin Templeton and the Retirement Innovation Initiative (RII), which launched in January 2020 and brings together industry experts to help improve the future of retirement in the U.S.