A Comprehensive Look Into the Economic Well-Being and Retirement Preparedness of U.S. Workers

In an era defined by evolving workplace dynamics and a heightened focus on employee well-being, the 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey offers a comprehensive look into the well-being and retirement preparedness of employees in the United States. Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) conducted this survey on financial well-being, employment-based health insurance, and retirement benefits in the workplace.

Understanding the Significance

Public employee retirement systems play a vital role in ensuring the financial security of government workers after they retire. Trustees and administrators tasked with managing these systems are responsible for making informed decisions that impact the retirement well-being of millions of public employees. The 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey is a critical resource for these individuals, offering general insights into American workers' financial preparedness and overall wellness.

During this year's survey, 1,505 American workers aged 21–64 were interviewed - a national sample of 1,002 workers and an oversample of 503 caregiver workers, bringing the total to 753. 

Data were weighted by race, age, gender, income, and caregiver status to reflect employed Americans. According to this study, the margin of error is +/- 2.6 percentage points.

Key Findings

  1. Job Satisfaction: 51% of Americans are extremely and very satisfied with their current job. Though job satisfaction remains relatively high, 3 in 10 American workers are concerned about their workplace well-being.
  2. Mental Health: A third of American workers report worrying about their mental health, and a quarter rate their mental health as fair or poor. Nearly 8 in 10 workers believe employers are responsible for assisting them with their mental health and emotional well-being. Stress is often or always experienced by about half of workers. About 4 out of 10 report feeling anxious or depressed, and nearly a quarter report feeling lonely often. Mental health and well-being negatively affect the performance of half of workers. 
  3. Financial Wellness: Today's economic challenges cause more stress than retirement and other long-term financial goals. Four out of five U.S. workers are somewhat concerned that there will be a recession next year or that inflation will remain high. According to the WWS, workers report that paying monthly bills and having enough savings for emergencies cause them the most stress. In contrast, retirement savings held the top spot in years past. 
  4. Savings: Employees do not anticipate unexpected expenses and emergency savings are prioritized before regular savings. Most workers want a workplace emergency savings account and would contribute significantly to it. At least 4 out of 10 workers feel somewhat prepared for a $5,000 emergency expense, but only 18% feel very prepared. Three out of 10 feel ill-prepared to handle an unexpected $500 expense, while 70% feel more equipped.
  5. Health Insurance: The availability of health insurance and retirement savings plans contributes to employee financial security, but benefits satisfaction is declining. 40% of employees are very or extremely satisfied with their benefits package, while 22% are not very or not at all satisfied. However, those numbers are down from last year and from 2021. In addition, 7 in 10 employees agree at least somewhat that their benefits are suited to their lifestyle and/or family needs. 
  6. Benefits: Apart from income and compensation, employees value work-life balance, schedule flexibility, and paid time off most. As important as health and retirement benefits are for job decisions, employees place work-life balance (55%), flexibility in work schedule (48%), and generous paid time off (37%) among their top three values for employers. Compared to quality health and retirement benefits, these rank higher. Mental health benefits have become more important to workers in the past year, and 4 in 10 feel the same about financial wellness programs. Health insurance is the most important benefit, with 55% of workers satisfied with their health coverage.
  7. Caregiving: Six out of ten U.S. workers have trouble balancing their work and caregiving responsibilities. Three-quarters of caregivers who provide unpaid assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) find it challenging to balance work and caring. Regardless of caregiver status, those who feel challenged in balancing work and caregiving report feeling overwhelmed (50%) and like they don't have enough time with loved ones (34%). A quarter of people can only concentrate partially on their work. 

To access a short version of the report, click here.

Why Trustees and Administrators of Public Employee Retirement Systems Should Care

The 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey is a valuable tool for trustees, administrators, and anyone involved in the management of public employee retirement systems for several reasons:

  1. Informed Decision-Making: The survey's findings help trustees and administrators make data-driven decisions regarding retirement plan design, investment options, and benefit offerings.
  2. Enhanced Employee Engagement: By addressing the specific needs and concerns highlighted in the survey, administrators can increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Understanding public sector workers' financial wellness and retirement confidence enables administrators to proactively address potential risks and challenges in the retirement system.
  4. Policy Development: The survey's insights can inform the development of policies and initiatives to improve overall employee well-being.

The 2023 Workplace Wellness Survey offers a comprehensive snapshot of American employees' well-being and retirement preparedness. For trustees, administrators, and others involved in the management of public employee retirement systems, this report is a valuable resource that can inform decision-making, enhance employee engagement, and contribute to public sector workers' long-term financial security and well-being. As the workplace landscape continues to evolve, staying attuned to the needs and concerns of employees is crucial, and this survey is a step in the right direction toward achieving that goal.

About the Author: Allen Jones is the Director of Communications and Event Marketing at TEXPERS. He has been with the Association since 2017. He can be reached at [email protected].


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