Retire Smart

The Benefits Gap: Ignorance Is Not Bliss

MassMutual Research: Four in 10 Americans Admit Knowing Little Or Nothing About Their Employee Benefits

Millennials, Gen Xers, parents and low-income Americans find it difficult to manage finances; many say personal financial issues distract them on the job

ENFIELD, Conn. – New research from MassMutual finds that while most Americans understand the importance of their personal finances and employee benefits, 40 percent admit they know little or nothing about them.

On the surface, most people seemingly have their financial house in order, saying they prioritize understanding their personal finances (77 percent), having enough medical insurance (74 percent) and being on track to retire comfortably (65 percent), according to the 2015 MassMutual Employee Benefits Security Study. Yet 38 percent say they know little or nothing about their employer-provided benefits such as healthcare, life insurance, 401(k) retirement plans and other benefits. Two in five respondents (42 percent) say they are clueless about whether or not they are on track to retire comfortably, the study found.

“Personal finances continue to bedevil many Americans, especially when it comes to understanding and making the most of their employee benefits,” said Elaine Sarsynski, Executive Vice President of MassMutual Retirement Services and Worksite Insurance. “MassMutual’s research finds that many people say they need help to better understand their personal finances, but only one in five people actually use an online financial tool for assistance.”

MassMutual commissioned the research by KRC Research as part of an initiative to help educate workers about their employer-provided benefits and enable them to make better choices in selecting healthcare coverage, insurance protection, retirement savings and other benefits. The study focused on 1,517 working Americans who were at least age 18 in a wide variety of jobs and industries.

Difficulties and Distractions

While many people assert they do just fine managing their finances, 37 percent find doing so “somewhat” or “very difficult” and 40 percent say personal financial problems are a distraction at work, according to the study. Some groups find personal finance more difficult than others, including Millennials (58 percent), parents (50 percent), Generation X (47 percent), women (44 percent) and those with annual incomes of $50,000 or less (44 percent). Baby Boomers were the least likely to encounter difficulty in managing their finances (28 percent) or being distracted at work by financial issues (24 percent).

Help Me, Please
Personal finances continue to bedevil many Americans, especially when it comes to understanding and making the most of their employee benefits

Many workers would appreciate having access to online tools. Four out of five (80 percent) survey respondents say they do not currently use an online financial tool to manage their retirement, healthcare and other forms of insurance. However, 73 percent indicate they would be likely use such a tool if it were available free, especially if it were provided by a “trusted and respected financial services company.”

Millennials (82 percent), parents (80 percent) and Gen Xers (78 percent) are especially interested in using an online financial tool, according to the study. Overall, one in three respondents (32 percent) would be more likely to enroll in their employee benefits if they could use an online tool to help them figure out their needs.

Earlier this year, MassMutual launched MapMyBenefits, a free, online tool that enables employees to prioritize their benefits choices, making the most of each benefit dollar based on their life stage, financial goals and personal finances. The holistic approach to financial planning at the workplace combines retirement readiness, healthcare coverage and preparation for life’s unforeseen events.

“MassMutual’s research shows that a high percentage of workers would welcome help in managing their personal finances and figuring out their benefit choices, especially younger people,” Sarsynski said. “Financial tools like MapMyBenefits provide workers with an easy-to-use, fast and convenient way to better understand their financial needs and prioritize their benefits accordingly.”




About MassMutual
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. The company has a long history of financial strength and strong performance, and although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual has paid dividends to eligible participating policyowners consistently since the 1860s. With whole life insurance as its foundation, MassMutual provides products to help meet the financial needs of clients, such as life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, and annuities. In addition, the company’s strong and growing network of financial professionals helps clients make good financial decisions for the long-term.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts and its major affiliates include: Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MassMutual International LLC; MML Investors Services, LLC, Member FINRA and SIPC; OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.
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