Survey Details Participant Financial Stress Levels, Concerns and Importance of Financial Wellness Education

OneAmerica® poll illustrates benefits of aiding participants so they achieve positive outcomes

Indianapolis, September 11, 2018

Two-thirds of retirement plan participants indicate they have moderate to very high levels of financial stress, with 20 percent reporting 'high' to “'very high' levels, a new survey from OneAmerica® reveals.

In addition to evaluating participant financial stress levels, the OneAmerica survey also looked at those factors causing participants to experience financial stress as well as their thoughts on financial wellness.

Not having enough for retirement was the top financial concern, cited by 34 percent of participants; not having enough to pay monthly bills was cited by 23 percent of participants, and not being able to pay housing costs was cited by 15 percent of participants. The study found that age impacts participant top financial concerns with younger individuals showing more concern about meeting day-to-day expenses, and older individuals indicating they are more concerned about not having enough for retirement. 

“Evaluating top financial concerns provides great insight into the root cause of financial stress,” said Marsha Whitehead, OneAmerica vice president of enterprise marketing. “It is critically important for plan sponsors to understand and address participants’ concerns around retirement preparation and day-to-day financial needs. Failing to do so might not only lead to a financially stressed workforce, but one that may experience increased absenteeism, tardiness, decreased productivity, and safety issues.”

From Aug. 25, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2018, more than 12,200 of OneAmerica retirement plan participants responded to an online poll, sharing their thoughts on financial wellness, education and resource preferences, and potential roadblocks to retirement. The survey results provide insights into how retirement plan sponsors can work with participants to improve their financial wellness and overcome retirement planning hurdles.

In looking at how participants define financial wellness, OneAmerica found that one-third of participants report that being able to meet day-to-day and monthly expenses most closely aligns with their definition of being financially well. One-quarter of participants define financial wellness as having enough money to retire, followed by being prepared for a financial emergency or life event (15 percent), having a controlled level of debt (14 percent) and achieving a desirable level of income (12 percent).

The survey also asked participants which attributes were most important in helping them achieve financial wellness and found that 24 percent of participants indicate gaining control of their debt is most important, followed by 22 percent indicating that contributing more to their retirement plan will help them in achieving financial wellness. The third most important attribute in achieving financial wellness was creating a budget or spending plan, which was cited by 19 percent of participants.

Gender and age also influence which attributes were most important to achieving financial wellness:

  • Men were more likely to indicate contributing more to a retirement plan while women were more likely to cite debt control.
  • Participants age 34 and younger think the most important attributes in achieving financial wellness are debt control and creating a budget or spending plan (both at 26 percent). Participants age 50 or older think contributing more to a retirement plan (21 percent) and better or more affordable healthcare (19 percent) are most important in achieving financial wellness.

As the industry looks to place a value on a participant’s or a plan’s financial wellness, it is important to look at these results, and understand that achieving financial wellness varies from participant to participant and can shift as an individual ages, according to Melissa Musial, OneAmerica marketing research and data manager.

“Although we see retirement preparation as a top financial concern and near the top of how participants define and achieve wellness, basic financial concerns such as meeting day-to-day expenses often take priority,” Musial said. “If a plan sponsor has not yet implemented a financial wellness program, now is the time. Education is critical to help participants align their actions with their goals and help them not only achieve financial wellness but also reduce their financial stress.”

Want to know more about the OneAmerica Survey? Download a free infographic and whitepaper at

OneAmerica® is the marketing name for the companies of OneAmerica.

Products issued and underwritten by American United Life Insurance Company® (AUL), a OneAmerica company. Administrative and recordkeeping services provided by McCready and Keene, Inc. or OneAmerica Retirement Services LLC, companies of OneAmerica which are not broker/dealers or investment advisors. Provided content is for overview and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be relied upon as individualized tax, legal, fiduciary, or investment advice.

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About OneAmerica

A national leader in the insurance and financial services marketplace for more than 140 years, the companies of OneAmerica help customers build and protect their financial futures. OneAmerica offers a variety of products and services to serve the financial needs of their policyholders and customers. These products include retirement plan products and recordkeeping services, individual life insurance, annuities, asset-based long-term care solutions and employee benefit plan products. Products are issued and underwritten by the companies of OneAmerica and distributed through a nationwide network of employees, agents, brokers and other sources who are committed to providing value to our customers. To learn more about our products, services and the companies of OneAmerica, visit                     

Tom Spalding, Public Relations Manager, 317-285-1461