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Is retirement profitable?

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 2 pm ET

I received another study today that said many people don't think they have enough money to retire and they are either delaying retirement or saying that they know they'll have to work until they drop, so they've given up on retirement planning.

It seems I get at least one of these kinds of surveys almost daily, but the one that arrived this morning from consultancy PwC stood out because it went a step further. It said that stress caused by financial worries, particularly retirement planning concerns, is having an impact on employee productivity. Some 29 percent of employees surveyed said their personal financial issues are a distraction at work, and 48 percent said they'd handled their personal financial problems during work hours.

That's guaranteed to make the boss sit up and take notice. "These 'lost hours' can really add up and have a significant impact on an employer's bottom line," said Kent Allison, partner in PwC's financial education practice.

What is it that's worrying employees enough to make them delay their retirement? The survey said:

  • Haven't saved enough, 34 percent.
  • Retirement investments have declined in value, 18 percent.
  • Too much debt, 14 percent.
  • Need to keep health care coverage, 14 percent.
  • Supporting children-grandchildren, 9 percent.
  • Don't want to retire (prefer to continue working, not ready for lifestyle change, etc), 9 percent.
  • Other, 2 percent.

And then there is the 35 percent who aren't bothering to save for retirement at all. Why is that?

  • Too many other expenses, 45 percent.
  • Debt to pay off, 28 percent.
  • Income is lower than last year, 15 percent.
  • Don't know how to save for retirement, 4 percent.
  • Other, 4 percent.
  • Don't know how much to save for retirement, 3 percent.

None of these statistics seem like they should come as a shock to employers. The last few years have wreaked havoc on many people's retirement plans. Not only have significant numbers not had any wage increases, but millions also have been forced to give up traditional pensions in favor of 401(k)s, which don't offer the same sense of security or amount of dependable income.

PwC urged employers to help their employees find a solution -- before it costs employers more money. "Delayed retirement and concern over one's financial situation can have significant, far-reaching impact on companies and their workforces, including succession planning, productivity and health care costs," said Allison.

Wouldn't it be ironic after all these years of financially driven reductions in our retirement system if doing the right thing on behalf of retirees is also the profitable thing?

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