What You Need to Know
- Pandemic spending curbs has led to positive short-term behavior on spending and saving, a John Hancock study found.
- Almost 70% of respondents felt confident in their financial outlook.
- Company retirement programs, and education on finances, are a key attraction for employees.
Despite a two-year pandemic, workers overall are more confident in their financial situation than they’ve been since 2014, according to findings in the eighth annual Stress, Finances, and Well-Being report released today by John Hancock Retirement. That said, overall stress still affects 72% of retirement plan participants surveyed, especially women (79%) and those 36 to 50 years old (77%).
Further, 71% responded said they had experienced stress, depression or loneliness during the past year.
“People find finances stressful and it can impact their life,” Sue Reibel, CEO of John Hancock Retirement, told ThinkAdvisor. “Yet a contradiction [we found] is that workers are saying that they’re seeing some positive short-term impacts on their financial life because they’ve been able to take some steps that have improved their financial situation.”
The online study of 1,162 workers, taken between Aug. 4, 2021 and Sept. 3, 2021, and conducted by Greenwald & Associates for John Hancock, found that 58% of respondents had financial stress. For example, 87% of those with major debt said their finances were a cause of stress, as said 73% of households making $50,000 or less, and 72% of people younger than 36.
Still, Reibel noted that during the pandemic people were able to curb spending, which led to short-term relief from financial stressors overall. She noted that a majority were feeling more confident in their financial decisions.
Further, the study showed a certain amount of “decision fatigue” in which workers were looking to employers, financial professionals and retirement providers to help them save more.
The study also found that workers were overwhelmingly pleased with having a workplace retirement program:
- 80% of respondents said they would not work for a company without a retirement plan;
- More than 90% see retirement plans as a crucial employer benefit;
- Roughly 66% stated that having access to financial wellness programs would make them more likely to stay with their employer.
The study also found that the costs of financial stress due to absenteeism and productivity loss affected the bottom line, which rose roughly 26% in the past three years.
Key factors in affecting those stressed over finances included holding student loan debt or having high credit card debt, Reibel pointed out. Those who don’t pay off credit card debt fully every month typically were women, people 50 and younger, those with student loans or households earning less than $100,000.