Besides wreaking havoc among workers and their ability to save money for the future, the Great Recession had one other unintended consequence: It turned the tide for workers’ loyalty to their current employers.
The days of people working for the same employer for 20 to 30 years are long gone. The average amount of time workers stay at one job is three to five years.
But “post-recession, that trend will change,” believes Anne Coveney, senior manager of retirement thought leadership at T. Rowe Price in Baltimore. “More people are working in contracting settings but many are sticking with firms for quite a while. I feel like the tenure is going to get longer.”
In its eighth annual Parents, Kids & Money survey, the firm found that employees tend to be more loyal to their employers now and look to them as their main source of financial information. That trend is what has driven the popularity of workplace financial wellness programs in the past five years.
Employers realize that their employees need help in managing their money.
The survey found that nearly half of parents have gone into debt purchasing something their kids wanted and 72% of parents said they don’t have sufficient emergency funds to cover at least three months’ worth of living expenses. Forty-nine percent said they don’t have an emergency fund at all, according to T. Rowe Price.
Some spending has an emotional component to it, “feeling the need to spend for certain reasons,” Coveney says.
Retirement savings is another area in which employees fall short. Forty-four percent of parents said they had used retirement savings to fund non-emergencies in the past two years. More than half agreed with the statement: “If I save 6 percent of my income toward retirement, I’ll have enough money to comfortably retire at age 65.”
Coveney said that “six percent is not going to do it these days and is certainly less than the standard recommended.”
Most industry experts believe that workers need to save 15% of their income annually to achieve retirement readiness at age 65.
Parents’ knowledge of savings matters was also deficient. Sixty-seven percent of parents said that saving for their child’s college education was more important than saving for retirement. Many of them, 44%, have used their retirement savings to fund non-emergencies like paying off debt, kids’ education and day-to-day expenses. More people tap their retirement for non-emergencies than emergencies, T. Rowe Price found.
Employers have an opportunity to step up and help employees with some of the guide posts around savings, she says.
“It is sort of interesting what we are seeing with kids is parallel to what we are seeing in the 401(k) industry. That financial wellness is still front and center in terms of managing budgeting,” she says. “You didn’t hear that through the workplace at all five years ago.”
Employers are much more involved in providing financial education to their workforces now and employees value that information.
The T. Rowe Price survey also questioned children between the ages of 8 and 14 about money. Forty-four percent of children said that they regularly talk about money with their friends. And 47% have lent money to their friends. More than one-third of the children surveyed said their parents feel uncomfortable talking about money with them, the survey found.
“Being able to talk about money with friends feels like a positive situation,” says Coveney. She believes that parents should be more proactive in talking about finances with children, even having conversations about it once a week.
“The more it becomes standard information to talk about, it feels like that is the positive direction to go in,” she says.
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