man at desk looking stressedOnly 31 percent of employees overall say they could meet theirbasic expenses if they were out of work for an extended period oftime. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Employers trying to do something to help their employees improvetheir financial wellness may be congratulatingthemselves on putting programs in place to deal with it—but theprograms they're using may not be doing much, if anything, to helpemployees ditch their financial stress and even threaten theirpreparations for retirement.

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According to PwC's 8th annual Employee Financial WellnessSurvey, financially stressed employees are far less prepared forretirement than those who are not stressed about their financialcondition.

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In fact, they've “saved less, are more likely to raid retirementplans before retirement and are nearly three times as likely to saythey expect to spend the majority of their time working inretirement because they'll need to financially.”

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And don't think that just because there's a financial wellness program in place at workthat that will solve the problem. According to the report, majorproblems could lie ahead for organizations if financial stressisn't addressed at the root—and many programs just aren't cuttingit.

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Says the report, “While some studies show that upwards of 80percent of employers report having a financial wellness program inplace, our results show that a majority are still traditionalretirement education and planning programs lacking focus on the keyareas causing employee stress. As a result, a failure to addresssome of the more immediate financial concerns may actuallyundermine efforts to better prepare employees for retirement.”

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Employers need a “cohesive and holistic financial wellnessprogram” that actually address the challenges employees currentlyface—and the majority don't do that, the report finds.

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More than 80 percent of workers foresee a retirement in nameonly, with 30 percent believing that continuing to work will be afinancial necessity.

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And only 43 percent of boomers planning to retire in the next 5years have any idea how much money they'll need once they'veretired.

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Without a “solid plan,” says the report, financial stress levelsclimb and could even be making it tougher to have financialstability in retirement—“which may be fueling the growing number ofbankruptcy claims among retirees.”

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Such events, the report adds, seem “be an indictment of currentretirement education programs and may require employers to rethinktheir approach to preparing employees for retirement.”

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The sandwich generation suffers from providing financial supportto parents or in-laws, and 60 percent of those who do so say thatthey'll probably have to devote their retirement savings to otherexpenses instead.

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And 48 percent of sandwich generation parents who providefinancial support to their kids say that retirement money will gofor other things than retirement.

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Only 31 percent of employees overall say they could meet theirbasic expenses if they were out of work for an extended period oftime. Credit card debt and student loans make it tougher forworkers to be able to pay for housing, food, utilities and otheressentials—never mind save for retirement.

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READ MORE:

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10 findings on employee financialwellness

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Financial wellness in the age ofanxiety

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Employers warming up to financialwellness

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.