US Workers Fear Exhausting Savings in Retirement

U.S. employees have a more positive view of their overall well-being than employees in Europe, yet report feeling more intimidated by financial matters.

U.S. workers are more afraid of running out of money in retirement and more intimidated by financial matters, such as long-term financial planning, than workers in Europe are—yet Americans rate their financial well-being higher than do their counterparts across the pond, according to Alight research.

The 2022 Alight International Workforce and Wellbeing Mindset report found that 53% of U.S. workers rate their financial well-being highly, compared with 46% in the Netherlands, 44% in Germany, 40% in the U.K. and 35% in France. Overall, 44% of respondents rate their well-being as high.

The findings are from a series of research reports by Alight and Business Group on Health, according to a press release.

“Workers worldwide found that COVID-19 intensified challenges to wellbeing,” Alight CEO Stephan Scholl said in the release. “As a result, they sometimes face difficulties in showing up to work as their best selves, which ultimately affects companies’ bottom line. At the same time, caring about employee wellbeing is critical to recruiting and retaining talent.”

Among American workers, 43% said they experienced the most stress about long-term financial planning, though financial priorities differed for workers in other countries. Still, fully 47% of U.S. employees said they felt in control of their financial future, compared with 35% among their European counterparts.

The research shows that overall, 24% of respondents said they are intimidated by financial matters and 38% are afraid of running out of money in retirement. For U.S workers, 36% said they are intimidated by financial matters and 47% fear running out of money in retirement.

And yet, 47% of U.S. workers said they felt in control of their financial future, compared with 35% of their European counterparts, the report shows.  

Among U.K. workers, 25% are intimidated by financial matters and 39% fear running out of money in retirement, whereas 16% of French workers said they are intimidated by financial matters and 42% fear running out of money in retirement. In Germany, the figures were 20% and 41%, respectively, and in the Netherlands, they were 24% for each.   

Worldwide Worker Stress

Among all workers, 73% reported high or moderate levels of stress and 34% reported suffering symptoms of burnout, yet 34% of respondents feel their employer cares about their well-being, the research found.

For workers in the U.S. and the U.K., 15% of employees reported being aware of employer-sponsored stress management programs. Of those aware of the benefit, 23% have used it, although 32% wanted their employer to provide more mental health resources.

“These sentiments demonstrate a disconnect in employees’ views of their workplace wellbeing benefits, as large employers have continued to make significant investments in workforce wellbeing benefits and programs,” Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of Business Group on Health, said in a statement.

The survey also identified areas where employers can better prioritize the well-being of their workforce and increase employee awareness and use of available well-being programs.

“Employers can use this valuable survey data to refine how employees learn about and experience wellbeing initiatives, as well as how to better meet the specific needs of employees,” said Kelsay. “Many employers have invested considerably in wellbeing resources in recent years, and a key takeaway from these findings is that there is more they can do to ensure employees are aware of and utilizing those offerings.”

The report recommends considering raising awareness of available mental health programs by creating engaging and personalized programs through a combination of technology and communication. It also recommends supporting employees’ long-term financial goals and understanding their short-term demands, as many employees need assistance with reducing debt levels, sticking to a budget, saving for more immediate financial needs and having longer-term savings goals. According to the report, balanced financial well-being programs that provide concrete steps for employees to take can help boost overall financial well-being and reduce related stress.

In addition, the report emphasizes the importance of providing balance and flexibility, as the pandemic has demonstrated that workers value flexibility and being able to work remotely at least some of the time. More than half of employees (54%) said a flexible work environment differentiated one employer from another, and 59% said being able to work remotely had a positive effect on their well-being.

Kantar conducted the research, surveying more than 10,000 employees from February to March in the U.S. (2,000), U.K. (2,002), Germany (2,001), France (2,000) and the Netherlands (2,001). This marked the first time the study included countries outside the U.S.