All employees struggle with debt

While both participants and non-participants struggle with debt, participants also manage to save for retirement. Together, we can help non-savers get on track.

Employee debt and savings goals

Overall, non-participants have similar debt and savings goals as participants. Non-participants are less likely to have a mortgage or to be saving for travel. They’re slightly more likely to have medical debt and student loans.1


Debt impacts non-participants more

Nearly all non-participants (84%) have some type of debt. A third have at least three types of debt, and 12% carry four or more types. Debt is especially problematic for non-participants under 50.2

Surprisingly, participants often have more types of debt and more competing savings goals than non-participants. The degree to which debt is seen as a problem is the difference: 71% of non-participants describe their debt as a problem (including a quarter who say it’s a major problem), while only 63% of participants say the same.3

Non-participants lack financial confidence

Non-participants are more likely to express concern and less likely to express confidence about their long-term financial security. The difference is significant: Participants are twice as likely to be extremely/very confident on key issues.4

Confidence regarding financial security

(% extremely/very confident)

Your savings lasting the rest of your life: non-participants 27%, participants 48%. Having enough money to maintain your lifestyle: non-participants 26%, participants 51%. Affording to retire when you want to: non-participants 25%, participants 50%.


Non-participants also are less confident about their ability to make retirement savings decisions. Two groups stand out:5

  • Women: Only 29% of women are extremely/very confident vs. 52% of men
  • Those with lower incomes: 34% are extremely/very confident for incomes less than $50K vs. 66% for those who make $100K+

Help non-participants increase confidence

Education may be the key to turning non-participants into participants. By addressing their areas of interest, we can help non-participants become more confident about making decisions. While this chart focuses on non-participants, participants have similar interests.

Topics of interest researched by non-participants in the last year6


bar chart showing topics of interest researched by non-participants in the last year


How to budget: 48% researched, 14% interested.
How to prioritize multiple financial goals and responsibilities: 34% researched, 19% interested.
How to know if you’re on track with your savings: 33% researched, 20% interested.
How to maximize Social Security: 30% researched, 24% interested.
Budgeting for expenses in retirement: 30% researched, 22% interested.
Finding ways to save for retirement when finances are tight: 28% researched, 25% interested.
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): 27% researched, 18% interested.


More than half of non-participants have researched or are interested in learning about budgeting, managing multiple financial goals, and finding ways to save for retirement when finances are tight.7 This may indicate that non-participants want to save for retirement and just need help figuring out how to manage it.

Provide tools to manage finances

Providing resources based on their areas of interest may encourage non-participants to join the plan and current participants to increase their contributions.

Goal setting correlates to positive action

How else can we help both participants and non-participants? Encourage goal setting. Our research shows that participants who set goals for retirement saving, other savings, or debt payments contribute more to their retirement plans than non-goal setters.8


Use these insights to power positive outcomes for your participants!
 

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