Financial Independence Remains a Top Priority Despite Employee Feelings of Financial Anxiety

US workers are clearly feeling the strain of economic uncertainty, according to Franklin Templeton’s third annual “Voice of the American Worker” study. The study revealed that financial anxiety has reversed the pandemic’s “Great Resignation” to “the Great Return” and is reshaping employee benefits expectations. Our Jacquelyn Reardon shares findings from the survey, and potential action items for employers.

Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker study, now in its third year, uncovered some interesting new trends and also a reversal in others that had taken root during the COVID-19 lockdown period. One thing that’s clear is workers today are feeling more financial stress and concern, which also has implications for employers.

Our annual survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Franklin Templeton, is connected to Franklin Templeton’s Retirement Innovation Initiative (RII), which launched in January 2020. RII’s mission is to bring together industry experts who share the same vision—improving the future of retirement in the United States. The survey respondents represent a snapshot of the US workforce: across the country, across industry, and across generations and backgrounds.

Throughout the last three years, we’ve seen some evergreen trends reconfirmed year over year:

  • Workers continue to seek improved well-being and need support in addressing existing roadblocks.
  • A focus on well-being continues to include urgency in improving financial health with key opportunities for employer support.
  • Workers remain more focused on financial independence than traditional retirement.
  • There has never been a more urgent time for employers to evaluate their benefit offerings and consider ways to evolve how employee needs are supported.

Below are some highlights of specific findings in our 2023 survey, analysis and possible action items for employers.

Financial stress and concerns are accelerating in the current economic climate

Financial independence, plans for retirement, and feelings of job stability are all in jeopardy as American workers grapple with economic uncertainty. Our Voice of the American Worker survey found Millennials and women feel especially insecure.