A survey by Greenspring Advisors conducted during May 2019, with the aim of providing a comprehensive, multi-dimensional assessment of employee perceptions about their financial well-being, found mid-career employees (ages 35 to 55) are in the toughest position.
Respondents in this age group exhibit the lowest levels of confidence in their ability to make good financial decisions (43%), the ability to retire on time (15%) and are struggling the most with debt (49%). They are also most likely to have no emergency savings (33%).
Not surprisingly, the survey found every financial measure improves as employees make more money. The lowest-paid employees exhibit the highest levels of stress (65%) and debt management issues (67%), but the lowest levels of confidence in short-term and retirement savings, and keeping pace with compensation and cost of living (75%). Employees making less than $50,000 are the most “at-risk” group.
There were large differences between men and women based on survey responses. Women are 27% more likely to experience financial stress, 35% less confident in making financial decisions, 33% less likely to feel confident in managing debt and almost twice as less confident in their ability to retire. They are also less likely to have an emergency fund and have lower levels of short-term and retirement savings than men.
Across the board, 45% of employees report feeling financial stress regularly. And, those who do regularly feel financial stress are 16% less likely to be saving for retirement and 51% less likely to have an emergency savings fund than those who are not feeling financial stress regularly.
Only 24% of employees surveyed say they have a written financial plan. Less than half (47%) of all employees say they are “extremely” or “very confident” in their ability to make good financial decisions. Men (57%) are more likely to express a high confidence level than women (40%). Only 43% of mid-career employees are confident in their financial decision-making, compared to 48% early- career and 56% of late-career employees. Those making less than $50,000 (35%) are less confident than employees making between $50,000 and $100,000 (48%) and 48% less than those making $100,000 to $250,000 (57%).
Thirty-six percent of employees cite retirement as the most important financial goal, followed by budgeting and debt management (27%) and overall financial planning (22%). However, budgeting and debt management was more than three times as important for younger workers (36%) than older workers (11%).
“Not being able to retire when I want to” (30%) and “Not having enough emergency savings” (21%) are the two biggest financial concerns for employees, the survey found. Not having enough emergency savings is a higher concern for women (25%) than men (15%). And, 17% of those making less than $50,000 are concerned about not being able to meet current monthly expenses.
Only 67% of mid-career employees have an emergency savings fund, fewer than either their early-career (73%) or late-career counterparts (77%). And, though the survey found more than 70% of employees overall have an emergency savings fund, 53% of respondents have less than $5,000 in emergency savings.