By Eric Stevenson
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Working longer, retiring later

Workers are facing outside pressures from economic upheaval, inflation and skyrocketing health care costs, and these forces are undermining their retirement confidence. A recent survey from the Nationwide Retirement Institute® found that many participants have adjusted their retirement plans over the past year, expecting to work longer and feeling less confident in their ability to be financially secure in retirement. According to our survey, nearly 1 in 4 participants now expect to retire later than they had planned a year ago. Around 10% of participants don’t think they’ll ever be able to retire.

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screenshot image of an article titled employees seek the confidence of pension-like income in workplace retirement plans
Employees have several concerns about income security

According to a recent survey of plan sponsors and workers nearing retirement, shifts in the economy and the markets have workers worried.

See the top 5 concerns affecting workers today

What's driving the lack of retirement confidence?

One of the things we wanted to understand when conducting our survey was: Why are so many employees delaying retirement? The top reasons given include fears of future recessions, the likelihood of outliving their retirement income, and the inability to afford their desired retirement lifestyle. Persistent market volatility and future market crashes were other concerns that also ranked highly.

Income insecurity and savings erosion are at the root of these fears. Newly available in-plan solutions that offer protected retirement income are specifically designed to address these risks, which is why they are proving to be popular with workers. In our survey, 87% of all participants said they’d probably roll over their current savings balance into a protected retirement income solution if one was available on their retirement plan menu.

Delayed retirements are challenges for plan sponsors, too

Retirement confidence is also a concern for employers as delayed retirements can affect their business operations. Our survey found employer impacts such as higher compensation and benefit costs, constrained ability to hire new talent, and even lower employee morale and productivity.

Plan sponsors are also seeing greater interest from employees in improving their retirement preparedness. Within the past year, 72% of plan sponsors reported greater focus from employees on retirement planning. The quality of retirement benefits may also be a factor in employee turnover, with around 40% of employers reporting over the past year an increase in workers leaving for other companies and organizations that offered better benefits over the past year.

According to our survey, protected retirement income solutions are highly rated by plan sponsors. Over 70% expressed interest and viewed them favorably, and reported that their "comfort" with protected retirement income solutions has increased year over year. However, there are some obstacles to overcome when discussing protected retirement income with plan sponsors; one-quarter of those who do not offer protected income solutions said they didn’t know enough about them and considered the solutions too complex.

Your opportunity to build retirement confidence

The primary benefit of a workplace retirement plan is to provide employees a path to a secure financial future, with enough money saved for a dignified retirement. And the ultimate purpose of retirement plan design is to give participants confidence in their ability to achieve their retirement goals.

Given the volatility in the economy and financial markets, a protected retirement income solution offers employees the financial security they need to feel confident in their plans for retirement.

It’s not surprising to see that many plan participants wish their retirement plan operated more like a pension, according to our survey. This desire is particularly strong among participants who are getting closer to retirement: 73% of participants age 45 or older wish their 401(k) plan offered a pension-like income stream.

For those of us in the retirement planning industry — plan sponsors and plan providers such as Nationwide — we've made it simple for participants to enroll, save and invest for retirement. These innovations have helped increase plan participation and retirement preparation. We can play a critical role in helping their employees retire when they want by offering protected retirement income solutions as part of a world-class benefits package.

Now it’s time to take the next step: helping workers achieve financial security after they retire. Just as defined contribution plans helped employees accumulate savings for the long term, we need to help participants create income from their retirement savings so they can retire with confidence, knowing they won’t outlive their income. In-plan protected income solutions can go a long way toward making this happen. Review 2 ways you can help participants feel more confident as they prepare for retirement with Nationwide.