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Financial Wellness

Transamerica survey shows several disconnects between employers, employees on retirement security

Just more than 70% of employers are confident their employees will be able to achieve financial security in retirement, while only 62% of employees are confident they will be able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle, the latest annual survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies shows.

Additionally, 55% of employers feel at least somewhat responsible for helping their employees achieve financial security in retirement. Another 23% felt indifferent, while 13% and 9% said they were "not too responsible" or "not at all responsible," respectively.

Transamerica — which last year surveyed 1,825 employers at for-profit companies with five or more employees and 6,372 workers — found a wider disconnect between employers' perceptions and employees' retirement preparations, a report on the survey said.

For instance, 72% of employers said they believe their employees prefer not to think about retirement until they get closer to their retirement date, compared to only 40% of workers who feel this way. Additionally, while 70% of employers considered their companies to be "'aging friendly' by offering opportunities, work arrangements, and training and tools" for employees of all ages, only 56% of workers agreed.

Another 47% of workers said they are looking for a phased transition into retirement with reduced working hours or working in different capacities, but only 20% of employers said they offer formal phased retirement programs.

The survey — which also looked at employers' retirement benefits — found that only 65% offered an employee-funded retirement plan to their employees. Among employers that do not offer employee-funded retirement plans, only 27% said they are likely to do so in the next two years, citing concerns about cost (41%) and the company not being large enough (58%).

"Today, people have the potential to live longer than any other time in history. Many workers now want and need to extend their working lives to financially prepare for longer retirements — but they need support from their employers, which they are not yet getting," said Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of Transamerica Institute and TCRS, in a news release Tuesday about the survey's findings.

Other findings from this year's survey include:

  • Only 41% of surveyed employers offer a retirement plan to part-time workers.
  • Among employees who do not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans, only 49% are saving for retirement, compared to 89% of workers who do have access to workplace plans.
  • Only 22% of the employers surveyed said they offer automatic enrollment for newly eligible employees, although 42% have adopted automatic escalation.
  • 85% of employers offer matching contributions and 45% offer a Roth option.
  • 83% of surveyed employers offer managed and/or asset allocation suites such as target-date or target-risk funds.
  • 51% of employers offer online tools and calculators that project participants' retirement income.
  • 22% of employers responded that they do "nothing" to help their employees transition their savings and finances into retirement.
  • 39% of employers believe financial wellness programs are important, while only 12% reported offering them.

The full report is available on Transamerica's website.