Majority of American Workers Are Stressed About Financial Futures

The study from EBRI and Greenwald Research also found that employees are increasingly interested in retirement education or advice.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and research firm Greenwald Research have released findings of a survey analyzing how stressed employees feel about their financial futures.

The 2020 “Workplace Wellness Survey” interviewed 1,028 American workers ages 21 to 64, finding that most are feeling stressed about their financial future. Two in three employees cited such concerns, and nearly half expressed worries about their household’s financial well-being.

Employees also said workplace efforts are significant to their financial and physical well-being. In 2020, 35% of employees said their employer offers a financial wellness program—a slight uptick from 2018 and 2015 numbers, at 28% and 33%, respectively. Additionally, four in 10 workers rated their employer’s efforts at improving their financial and emotional well-being as very good or excellent, and about half said the same thing about their physical well-being, according to the report. Less than one in four furloughed workers rated their employer’s efforts on improving their financial and emotional well-being as very good or excellent.

When offering a financial wellness programs, employers reported that they found their employees are most interested in retirement education or advice. The top three interest points were learning how to invest money into a retirement plan (31% of employees), how much to save for retirement (30%) and how to use retirement savings to generate income (27%). Others stated they want to learn how to transition from work to retirement (26%), manage health care costs during retirement (24%) and get help with wills or estate planning (21%).

The survey asked employees how retirement planning benefits, including traditional defined benefit (DB) plans, health insurance and retirement savings plans affect their sense of financial security. Fifty-four percent of employees said offering a DB plan contributes greatly to their feelings of financial security, 63% stated the same for health insurance and 55% noted they feel much more financially secured when offered an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The study also examined how financial insecurity impacts an employer’s workplace and financials. Employee financial insecurity can lead to high turnover rates, employee absenteeism and delayed retirement. According to the study, financially insecure employees were more likely to not finish daily tasks, look for a new job and have troubled relationships with coworkers. These financial troubles seep into their mental and physical well-being as well, including through muscle tension or back pain (51%), headaches or migraines (44%), insomnia or sleep trouble (39%), high blood pressure (33%), severe anxiety (29%), stomach ulcers (27%), severe depression (23%) and heart attacks (6%).