US employees still aren’t confident about reaching their long-term goals, and retirement plans continue to serve as a safety valve for more immediate needs. As employees stress over uncertainty regarding healthcare and are pressed to support both aging parents and grown children, employers have an opportunity to help.
The Employee Financial Wellness Survey is a publication from PwC’s employee financial education and wellness practice. It tracks the financial well-being of full-time employed US adults.
Forty-two percent of employees say it’s likely they’ll need to use money held in retirement plans for expenses other than retirement, and that number is even higher among employees who are stressed about their finances or impacted by student loans.
"Retirement plan funds have become a safety valve for many who don’t have money set aside for an emergency or unexpected expense. While some employers are looking to address this growing concern through plan design changes that further restrict loans and withdrawals, they may only exacerbate the situation if employees then seek less favorable ways to meet their needs. It is our continued belief that it will take a combination of strategic plan redesign, along with an increased focus on promoting healthier employee financial behaviors, to solve the issue."
Employees are consistent—year upon year and across generations—when they define financial wellness in terms of aspirational goals like freedom from stress and financial worry, and being able to make choices to enjoy life.
More than half of all employees want to make their own financial decisions but are looking to have someone validate that decision. Employees want a financial wellness benefit with access to unbiased counselors and help understanding and using their benefits.
Healthcare emerges as an even bigger employee concern. A growing number of employees would be willing to sacrifice future pay increases for better healthcare benefits. Overall, among employees’ retirement concerns, worries over health issues and healthcare costs combined are even more prevalent than the fear of running out of money.
PwC EnvisionTM Digital, our mobile platform, proactively engages employees to change and sustain behaviors that improve their overall financial wellness.