The Finance Of Longevity

8 In 10 Employers Admit Widespread Worry About Employees’ Financial Woes

Their workers are struggling financially as they wrestle with retirement savings, personal and tuition debt, and medical costs

New research from MassMutual’s Workplace Wellness study. Read more here.

December 03, 2019 — SPRINGFIELD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Eight in 10 employers say their employees are struggling financially as they face persistent problems such as saving for retirement, paying down debt and dealing with medical expenses, to name a few, according to new research from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual®).

The 2019 MassMutual Workplace Financial Wellness Study1 finds that 79% of employers say their workers are struggling financially. The larger the employer, the more likely respondents are to express concern about employee financial wellness issues.

“Our research finds that financial wellness issues are coming to roost at the workplace and that employers are acutely aware of their employees’ financial struggles,” said Ken Verzella, Head of Financial Wellness for MassMutual. “As long as workers struggle to overcome shorter-term financial issues such as eliminating debt and building emergency funds, they will be unable to save in any meaningful way for retirement and other long-term financial needs.”

Widespread Worries

Employer estimates vary about how many employees are plagued with financial problems. However, half of employers (51%) estimate that at least 25% or more of their workers struggle financially and 15% of employers say at least half of their workers are plagued by financial woes, the survey finds. Proof points for employees’ financial struggles include managers’ conversations with employees, employees’ lack of participation in retirement plans, working second jobs, taking loans from retirement plans, asking for paycheck advances and other indicators.

The most prevalent employee financial problems cited by employers include credit card or other consumer debt, day-to-day expenses for housing and childcare, the inability to save and prepare for retirement, a lack of emergency savings, and high medical costs, according to the study. In addition, employers expressed greater concern about some financial struggles than others.

Employer concerns about employees



Total Concerned

Financial readiness for retirement




Preparation for medical costs




Participation in retirement plan




Overall financial situation




Handling emergency expenses




Costs of childcare




Credit card and consumer debt




Student loan debt





Different Sizes, Different Concerns

The specific financial issues plaguing employees seems to differ with the size of the employer. Larger employers are more likely to point to employees failing to participate in their employer-sponsored retirement plan or, if they do participate, withdrawing funds from their plan, the study finds.

Retirement assets under management (in millions)

Indicators of financial struggles

$1mm — <

$5mm – <

$15mm —

$25mm —

Lack of participation in retirement plan





Taking loans from retirement plan





Employees tell managers about financial struggles






A Call for Help

A majority of employers (57%) report that workers are seeking help with their personal financial problems from employers, according to the study. Another 17% of employers say they are unsure if employees want help through work. Again, the larger the employer, the more likely the company is to report that employees are seeking help, the study finds.

The need for financial assistance through the workplace is an opportunity for financial advisors who support workplace retirement savings plans such as 401(k)s to connect with and help more people, according to Verzella. Advisors can often tap into resources offered by retirement plan providers, he said.

“MassMutual is hearing from employers that sponsor retirement plans that employees not only need help but want assistance from their employer,” Verzella said. “MassMutual has introduced robust financial wellness resources for employers and their employees and we continue to build on those capabilities and offerings. The good news is that financial wellness is increasingly available through the workplace.”

 Key Findings: Need for Financial Wellness Programs

Plan Sponsors see a large need for financial wellness for their employees and think it’s important for employers to offer that support.

As long as workers struggle to overcome shorter-term financial issues such as eliminating debt and building emergency funds, they will be unable to save in any meaningful way for retirement...

  • Eight in ten plan sponsors believe their employees are struggling financially, and often in ways that are not addressed by their current benefits offering.
  • Seven in ten believe their employees face financial challenges their current benefits do not address, like cost of living, debt management, lack of ability to save, and child and elder care.
  • Plan sponsors are aware of such challenges because they hear their employees talking about them, they see lower retirement plan participation than they would like to see, their employees are taking on second jobs, or taking loans from their retirement plans.
  • Nearly six in ten plan sponsors believe their employees are looking to them, their employer, for support.


Read the entire report here.


About MassMutual
MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. MassMutual offers a wide range of financial products and services, including life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, annuities, retirement plans and other employee benefits. For more information, visit
12019 MassMutual Workplace Financial Wellness Study,