Although many workplaces make financial and retirement benefits available today, mid-to-late career employees are highly concerned about their retirement savings and how to manage those funds once retired. To learn more, ADP commissioned Retirement Insights, LLC to survey workers ages 45 through 65 about their retirement preparations and financial well-being. The goal of the study was to better understand employee perspectives of critical benefits issues as well as their planning for income replacement once retired. The survey also finds:

  • Half identify retirement saving as the biggest threat to their financial well-being.
  • Housing costs and non-essential spending prevent them from saving more for the future.
  • Most engage in retirement planning activities often but find estimating future expenses and calculating the savings amount that will last their retirement to be challenging.
  • Personalized investment advice, assistance in developing a custom retirement savings strategy, and post-retirement education are retirement plan features that would help improve savings.

Retirement planning is complex and preparing in advance for the future is critical to retirement readiness. A workplace financial wellness program that is easily accessible can help employees manage their finances and enhance retirement planning. 

Low Retirement Savings Threatens Financial Well-being

Planning and saving in the pre-retirement years are critical for employees to achieve successful retirement outcomes. However, for workers to prioritize saving for tomorrow, they first need to build financial stability today. This is especially important as the majority of middle age and older workers say saving for retirement is the biggest concern for their financial well-being.

Though worried about the impact of retirement savings on financial wellness, approximately 37 percent of those surveyed say housing expenses, including rent or mortgage costs, prevent them from stepping up their retirement saving.

Key insights and actions:

  • Capitalize on a plan design that automatically enrolls workers in the retirement plan to help increase deferral rates annually and discourage plan leakage. Plus, consider a streamlined investment lineup structured with diverse choices and share classes that can help set the foundation for building future financial security. Research and behavioral finance have found streamlining processes and choices are best practices in plan design.
  • Financial education that includes topics that focus on understanding the components of debt, managing spending, expanding investment knowledge, and exploring ways to save more can benefit workers nearing retirement. The best programs also leverage technology to use a customized approach and deliver the topics and information that are most relevant to the individual’s situation. 

Retirement Planning is Difficult to Navigate

Survey respondents agree that retirement planning is complex. It involves many unknowns that complicate calculating future financial needs. Such variables include life expectancies, healthcare costs, future taxes and investment returns, the economy, viability of Social Security and Medicare as well as expectations regarding health, employment, and everyday expenses. Workers age 45 through 65 rate projecting future monthly expenses (29.3%), running out of money in retirement (28.7%), and determining how much to save for a comfortable retirement (27.5%) statistically equal in terms of difficulty. Fourteen percent also say understanding how to generate income to replace their salary in retirement is a challenge.

Key insights and actions:     

  • Break down the complexity of planning for retirement. Educational resources, tools, and personalized projections can help employees consider future needs, and set attainable goals with the help of step-by-step guidance. Making it easy to set plans in motion is crucial to getting workers to act.
  • Tap into technology to provide a better education experience. A guided, personalized and actionable retirement education approach can simplify planning, help workers avoid mistakes, and better use their benefits such as:
    • Employee education experiences that break down plan enrollment into a short, step-by-step module that encourages higher deferral rates and retirement age investment options.
    • Completing a personal profile to determine a retirement savings goal estimate and the deferral rate needed to reach it.
    • Ongoing engagement programs to leverage data collection to build individual profiles using personal characteristics and preferences to present personalized messaging and to curate a needs-based learning experience.

Engagement and Plan Improvements

Mid-to-late career workers are highly concerned—and engaged—in planning for retirement. Nearly 70 percent review their retirement plan investment choices quarterly to monthly, and 60 percent spend time planning their retirement at least quarterly. 

Workers become more focused and motivated to make plans and take action to save for the future as they near retirement age. The preparations that take place during these years are critical to their retirement readiness. Asked to evaluate their current workplace retirement plan, most choose services like personalized financial advice to help them better prepare. Personalized investment advice (22.2%) and help with developing a detailed plan for increasing retirement savings (18%) were named most often as ways their plan could be of more help.

Key insights and actions:

  • Implement retirement planning financial wellness services to motivate employees to take the steps necessary to become financially successful today and in retirement. It’s especially essential that employees at mid-career and beyond get financially focused during the pivotal saving years prior to retirement. Workers need financial education that assists them with managing spending, planning and saving for their retirement and investing to manage risk and meet their goals. Personalized advice, guidance and education resources can help solve retirement planning challenges like accurately calculating retirement needs, developing a plan for accelerating savings, and planning strategies for making assets last a lifetime.
  • Review existing communications tools and programs for missed opportunities to add or improve messaging that addresses specific retirement savings concerns and directs employees to helpful resources that encourage action.
  • Build engagement to drive action with regular, relevant messaging and a retirement planning experience customized for individual needs.


Workers say saving for retirement is unaffordable given their current financial circumstances, and it’s putting retirement further out of reach. Rather than taking action themselves to improve their financial position, many look to their employer to help them achieve current and future financial security. Employers who already have a retirement plan and financial wellness program in place can help workers gain better financial footing. These programs can help workers learn financial skills, analyze spending and manage debt, which can help reduce financial stress. In addition to helping workers build financial stability, they can also help them find money to save for retirement and reduce their uncertainties about retirement planning. To encourage program use, it’s important employers keep these programs in employees’ sight through easy access, mobile capabilities, and regular promotion.

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