Employers trying to do something to help their employees improve their financial wellness may be congratulating themselves on putting programs in place to deal with it—but the programs they’re using may not be doing much, if anything, to help employees ditch their financial stress and even threaten their preparations for retirement.
According to PwC’s 8th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, financially stressed employees are far less prepared for retirement than those who are not stressed about their financial condition.
In fact, they’ve “saved less, are more likely to raid retirement plans before retirement and are nearly three times as likely to say they expect to spend the majority of their time working in retirement because they’ll need to financially.”
And don’t think that just because there’s a financial wellness program in place at work that that will solve the problem. According to the report, major problems could lie ahead for organizations if financial stress isn’t addressed at the root—and many programs just aren’t cutting it.
Says the report, “While some studies show that upwards of 80 percent of employers report having a financial wellness program in place, our results show that a majority are still traditional retirement education and planning programs lacking focus on the key areas causing employee stress. As a result, a failure to address some of the more immediate financial concerns may actually undermine efforts to better prepare employees for retirement.”
Employers need a “cohesive and holistic financial wellness program” that actually address the challenges employees currently face—and the majority don’t do that, the report finds.
More than 80 percent of workers foresee a retirement in name only, with 30 percent believing that continuing to work will be a financial necessity.
And only 43 percent of boomers planning to retire in the next 5 years have any idea how much money they’ll need once they’ve retired.
Without a “solid plan,” says the report, financial stress levels climb and could even be making it tougher to have financial stability in retirement—“which may be fueling the growing number of bankruptcy claims among retirees.”
Such events, the report adds, seem “be an indictment of current retirement education programs and may require employers to rethink their approach to preparing employees for retirement.”
The sandwich generation suffers from providing financial support to parents or in-laws, and 60 percent of those who do so say that they’ll probably have to devote their retirement savings to other expenses instead.
And 48 percent of sandwich generation parents who provide financial support to their kids say that retirement money will go for other things than retirement.
Only 31 percent of employees overall say they could meet their basic expenses if they were out of work for an extended period of time. Credit card debt and student loans make it tougher for workers to be able to pay for housing, food, utilities and other essentials—never mind save for retirement.