The Financial Wellness Imperative

Retirement Fears: Income, Longevity And The Challenge Of Getting Through

 Financial Stress Costs Companies $2,000 per Employee Annually

New John Hancock research identifies retirement savings, student debt and living expenses among top stressors

BOSTON, MA (December 11, 2018) – John Hancock today announced the results of its annual Financial Stress Survey of 1,352 retirement plan participants, revealing a majority of workers (69 percent) are stressed over their finances, costing companies approximately $2,000 per employee. Most respondents (72 percent) admitted to worrying about personal finances while at work, with one-third doing so more than once per week.

Slightly more than three-quarters of survey respondents cited lack of retirement savings as a leading factor affecting their stress, with nearly half reporting they worry about it “a great deal” and only 40 percent expecting to retire “about when planned.” Rounding out the top five causes of financial worry were college loans (76 percent), monthly rent payments (64 percent), lack of emergency savings (59 percent), and overall current financial situation (62 percent). That financial stress is triggering both physical and psychological symptoms for about 60 percent of respondents, causing anxiety, lack of sleep and a feeling of being overwhelmed – all of which can affect a person’s productivity in the workplace.

Competing Financial Obligations

“At John Hancock, we are committed to helping our retirement plan participants feel prepared for the future and want to help alleviate stressors along the way,” said Patrick Murphy, president and CEO, John Hancock Retirement Plan Services. “People need help managing competing financial obligations, and it is up to providers, advisors, and employers to offer participants a holistic approach to financial wellness. That is how we will help people achieve financial success, whatever that may mean to them.”

Helping employees reduce their financial worries shows promise for employers. More than two in five respondents feel they would be more productive if they did not spend time worrying about their finances at work. Three in five respondents think getting financial advice at work would reduce their stress and 65 percent believe it would help them start saving more for retirement. When asked what financial issues they would like help with, three-quarters cited retirement income preparation aid, followed by Social Security and Medicare claiming (60 percent), and debt counseling (32 percent).

People need help managing competing financial obligations... to have a holistic approach to financial wellness

“Financial stress is one of the biggest concerns among our participants – and it has implications for their health, healthcare costs, and premiums, and ultimately, their productivity,” continued Murphy. “Our survey shows employers can play a role in making their employees’ financial lives better – and if done well, it may even benefit the company’s bottom line.”

Tools for Financial Success

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services offers personalized tools and resources to help investors get to and through retirement. Its financial wellness offerings allow each plan participant to view his financial life holistically and then encourages individualized goal – based action items. The guidance is designed to build confidence about achieving a successful retirement and reduce the stress associated with accumulation. Plan sponsors use the enhanced data coming from the financial wellness assessment and aggregation tools, which, in turn, has helped them build targeted employee education campaigns with more successful outcomes.

To see the full 2018 John Hancock Financial Stress Survey results, please click here or visit


The 2018 John Hancock Financial Stress survey was commissioned by John Hancock and conducted by Greenwald & Associates. An online survey of 1,352 John Hancock plan participants was conducted in June 2018.



About John Hancock and Manulife
John Hancock is a division of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. We operate primarily as John Hancock in the United States, and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance and wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. Assets under management and administration by Manulife and its subsidiaries were over CAD$1.1 trillion (US$863 billion) as of September 30, 2018. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as MFC on the TSX, NYSE, and PSE, and under 945 on the SEHK. Manulife can be found at