group photo of office workers(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many retirement-ageAmericans were concerned about not having enough saved to actuallybe able to retire. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic,people with retirement on the horizon are not the only onesworried.

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Although all the long-term implications of the coronaviruspandemic and recession on retirement security have yet to be fullyrealized, the financial vulnerabilities among workers across allgenerations are becoming clear, says a recent study. But it alsofound that employers can significantly help theiremployees, no matter how close or far they are to retirement,prepare and meet certain savings goals.

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The results from the study, "Amid COVID-19: The Outlook of ThreeGenerations," which examined the retirement outlook of millennials,Generation X, and baby boomers, came out of the findings of the20th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey.This survey polled 5,277 U.S. residents over the age of 18 workingfull or part-time for a for-profit company from Nov. 6 to Dec. 27,2019. A supplemental online survey was then conducted from April16-20, 2020 of 2,030 U.S. adults who were laid off or furloughed asa result of the coronavirus pandemic.

How employers can help

The study points out that employer-sponsored retirementbenefits, such as 401(k) programs, have proven to be highlyeffective at encouraging savings. In addition, most employees beingoffered these services participate and rely on these programs. Infact, the study showed that 85% of workers polled "highly value"retirement benefits and 80% said that retirement benefits offeredby a prospective employer is a "major factor in their decisionwhether to accept an offer."

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The participation in retirement plans is also very high. Thestudy showed that when offered a plan, three in four participate inemployer sponsored 401(k)s or similar plans. But it also indicatedthere could be room for growth in participation by adding featureslike automatic enrollment and automatic escalation.

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In addition, the poll indicated that a majority of U.S. workersin retirement plans take advantage of professionally managedofferings, and want more easy digestible and understood retirementeducation and advice.

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The concern lies in the data points that shows even though thereare a high number of workers that want these tools for retirement,almost one in four workers are not being offered any retirementbenefits. And those employers that do provide the benefit toemployees do little to facilitate the transition of an employeeinto their retirement.

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In addition, health and welfare benefits can also enhanceworkers' financial security. These benefits can provide insuranceprotections and mitigate out-of-pocket health care costs. But whilemost workers also believe these benefits are important, asignificant gap exists that spans all three generations between thenumber of workers who believe in their importance and thepercentage who are offered these services by their employers. Asthe study point out, this represents an opportunity for employersto increase the competitiveness of their benefits packages, whilealso helping their employees achieve greater long-term financialsecurity.

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Heather D. Nevitt is the Editor-in-Chief ofCorporate Counsel, Inside Counsel and Global Leaders inLaw.

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Heather Nevitt

Heather D. Nevitt is the Editor-in-Chief of Corporate Counsel and Global Leaders in Law.