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Great Resignation? Not for Older Workers, Study Finds

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What You Need to Know

  • One-fourth of employer-sponsored retirement plan participants 45 and older say they've pushed back their retirement, or plan not to retire at all.
  • Of these employees, 48% report feeling frustrated, 42% worried, 38% sad and 17% hopeless.
  • Annuities can help employees increase retirement savings with the confidence they can generate income that will not run out.

You read a lot these days about the so-called Great Resignation, as companies grapple with employees leaving their jobs at abnormally high rates, mainly those in their prime working years.

This trend, however, does not necessarily apply to older employees, according to a survey released Monday by the Nationwide Retirement Institute.

The survey found that a quarter of employer-sponsored retirement plan participants 45 and older report that they have pushed back their retirement, or resigned themselves to not retiring at all, because of the pandemic. Worse, 30% of participants 65 and older say the same thing.

The NRI survey found that plan participants looking to delay retirement expect to work for at least three years later, on average, than they had had thought they would before the pandemic.

As a result, 48% of these employees report feeling frustrated, 42% worried, 38% sad and 17% hopeless.

Not surprisingly, these emotions have consequences for their work lives. Forty-eight percent say delayed retirement has negatively affected their mental health. 

Thirty-nine percent indicated that it has damaged their morale at work, and 23% reported that they are less productive.

More on this topic

Edelman Data and Intelligence conducted an on survey over the summer of 1,000 plan participants 45 and older who work full time and have access to a 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) plan through their employer; 500 plan sponsors; and 300 advisors and consultants.

The Advisor’s Role

The NRS noted that older workers who consider delaying their departure from the workforce are uncertain how their retirement savings will translate to retirement security. 

Fifty-one percent of participants said they are worried about market volatility, 50% about managing lifestyle and expenses, and 48% about outliving their income in retirement.

This group of employees needs attention in order to transition out of work with short-term and long-term financial planning solutions that can help them reach their financial goals and prepare for the retirement they want, when they want it, according to Amelia Dunlap, vice president of Nationwide Retirement Solutions marketing.

Guaranteed lifetime income investment options for participants is one solution in which 46% of plan participants in the survey expressed interest. Annuities can help employees increase their retirement savings with the confidence that they can generate income that will not run out in retirement. 

“To get started, plan sponsors should work with their plan advisor or consultant to identify which option is right for their plan participants and benefits mix,” Dunlap said.

But even if employees do not have access to annuities at their workplace, they can still benefit from them in retirement. Here, the advisor’s role is to help them understand the many variations of annuities that are available in the marketplace.