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Morgan Stanley at Work’s Third Annual State of the Workplace Study Highlights Importance of Financial Wellness and Retirement Guidance as Employees Struggle With Financial Planning

  •  HR leaders concerned that employees struggle to stay productive at work due to outside financial stressors
  • Amid economic obstacles, employees continue to scale back on retirement contributions—especially Millennials and Gen Z
  • Financial wellness benefits saw popularity jump year-over-year
  • The importance of role of the financial advisor linked to retirement planning increased

Morgan Stanley at Work today released the latest findings from its third annual State of the Workplace Financial Benefits Study, which reveals how employees are responding to financial challenges when it comes to their decisions around financial wellness and retirement benefits:

  • Financial stress is a key concern for employers and employees alike: More than 83% of HR leaders worry that employees’ financial issues could impact their productivity, while 66% of employees agree that financial stress is negatively affecting their work and personal life.
  • And employees continue to scale back retirement contributions—especially younger cohorts: 66% of employees (up from 62% in 2022) have reduced contributions to their accounts, citing inflation and/or concerns of a recession—particularly to 401(k) plans (33%), long-term savings (28%), and emergency and short-term savings (28%).
    • Gen Z (78%) and Millennials (80%) especially say they had to scale back on contributions compared to their Gen X (58%) and Boomer (40%) counterparts.
  • Retirement assistance and retention are increasingly linked: 84% of HR leaders now view retirement planning assistance as a high or top priority in retaining current employees, up from 76% last year. Similarly, 92% of employees view retirement planning assistance as a priority when choosing where to work.
  • Financial wellness programs gain in popularity: Nearly 9 in 10 HR leaders (89%) now say they offer financial wellness programs (a 10-percentage point gain over 2021).
  • Financial advisors continue to gain importance to employees: Nearly 3 in 5 employees now rank retirement planning assistance from financial professionals as a high priority when choosing where to work—including 25% who say it’s their top priority.

“This past year we’ve seen an economic climate that frankly a lot of workplace participants—especially younger generations—have likely never experienced before,” said Krystal Barker Buissereth, Head of the Executive Services at Morgan Stanley at Work. “As a result, financial wellness programs are becoming even more sought-after, and HR leaders can play a vital role by connecting employees with resources to help them navigate each step of their financial journeys.”

“Employees want and need greater support when it comes to long-term retirement planning, and while we’re seeing financial guidance being recognized as a priority for HR leaders, there is still more employers can do to support and retain talent,” said Anthony Bunnell, Head of Retirement Solutions and Deferred Compensation at Morgan Stanley at Work. "These are the times when plan advisors shine by lending seasoned expertise and a steady hand to help ensure employee finances and investments are well positioned to weather whatever economic and market conditions may come our way.”

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 published its findings on equity and financial benefits.

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 and April 6th and April 12th, 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 42 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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