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Morgan Stanley at Work’s Third Annual State of the Workplace Study Shows More Work to Do to Bridge Gap Between Employee Expectations and Employer Benefit Offerings

  • Employers and employees agree that financial benefits increasingly drive retention and engagement
  • Market uncertainty and inflation fueling financial stress, employees seeking more from workplace financial benefits
  • Despite increased participant focus on benefits, employers reduced benefits amid recession fears

Morgan Stanley at Work released today the latest findings from its third annual State of the Workplace Financial Benefits Study. The data reveals that as companies and employees face continued high inflation and economic uncertainty, financial benefits are taking on new significance:

  • Financial benefits can drive retention: 89% of employees agree they would be more invested in staying at their company if it provided financial benefits that met their needs. And, most HR leaders (90%) are worried that their employees would leave if their company did not provide benefits that met employee needs.
  • Employees are paying closer attention to financial benefits, and employers are taking notice: Nearly 69% of employees say they are paying more attention to reviewing their financial benefits in 2023, up nine percentage points from last year. Similarly, more HR leaders increasingly expect their employees to pay more attention to their benefits (86%).
  • Yet companies have pulled back on benefits: Employees and employers seem to be at odds over expectations around financial benefits, with more employees requesting benefits that their company does not offer (88% vs. 78% in 2021). And one in four HR leaders shared that they are cutting back on employee financial benefits to prepare for a recession.
  • HR leaders and employees agree employers should step up support: Both employees (95%) and HR leaders (98%) agree that employers should offer the best employee benefits available in their industry. In looking ahead, most employees (89%) and HR leaders (97%) agree that their company needs to do a better job providing resources to maximize the financial benefits offered to them.

“Economic instability has led both employers and employees to tighten their belts—and ask a lot of their workplace benefits in the process,” said Brian McDonald, Head of Morgan Stanley at Work. “We're seeing momentum on both the employer and employee side to engage more intelligently with financial benefits as a ballast against uncertainty. To meet this moment, companies are going to have to get even more creative and efficient in leveraging holistic benefits offerings to attract, retain, and motivate their employees.”

Additional details are available in Morgan Stanley at Work’s State of the Workplace Study here. As part of a series of findings from Morgan Stanley at Work’s third annual study, the business will also publish its findings on equity benefits and retirement benefits in the coming weeks.

Methodology: The data from the Morgan Stanley at Work Employees Survey and HR Leaders Survey comes from a survey of 1,000 U.S.-employed adults and 600 HR leaders for companies. The survey was conducted on behalf of Morgan at Stanley at Work using an email invitation and an online survey between March 16th and March 22nd, 2023, by Wakefield Research (

About Morgan Stanley at Work

Morgan Stanley at Work offers a suite of financial solutions, which spans Equity Compensation through Shareworks and E*TRADE Equity Edge Online, Retirement and Financial Wellness Solutions. Morgan Stanley at Work combines cutting-edge planning and Morgan Stanley intellectual capital and financial education delivered through multiple channels to enable employees to build a holistic plan to achieve their financial goals. Securities products and services are offered by E*TRADE Securities LLC, Member SIPC. In connection with stock plan solutions offered by Morgan Stanley at Work, E*TRADE Securities LLC and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC provide brokerage services to stock plan participants. E*TRADE Financial Corporate Services, Inc. and E*TRADE Securities LLC are separate but affiliated subsidiaries of Morgan Stanley.

About Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is a leading financial services firm that provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses, and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, cash management and lending products and services, annuities and insurance, retirement, and trust services.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in 41 countries, the Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management is the trade name of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, a registered broker-dealer in the United States.

© 2023 Morgan Stanley at Work and Shareworks services are provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, member SIPC, and its affiliates, all wholly owned subsidiaries of Morgan Stanley.


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