Retirement Savings Tips: Stop Worrying and Start Saving

Retirement Savings Tips: Stop Worrying and Start Saving

According to most retirement savings statistics, saving for retirement is something a lot of people put on the backburner.  Until it is too late, that is.

For some people, the reason is that they are simply living paycheck to paycheck, so there isn’t much left to put aside. Others have some leftover money after covering the monthly expenses but aren’t sure how much they need to put in their retirement fund.  Retirement is expensive and you need to know how much money you will need each year.

Most experts say your retirement income should be about 80% of your final pre-retirement annual income.  That means if you make $100,000 annually at retirement, you need at least $80,000 per year to have a comfortable lifestyle after leaving the workforce.Facts:

  • Only half of Americans have calculated how much they need to save for retirement.
  • In 2020, more than a quarter of private industry workers with access to a defined contribution plan (such as a 401(k) plan) did not participate.
  • The average American spends roughly 20 years in retirement.

Remember…Savings Matters!  Here are 6 Ways to Save for Retirement:

1 – Focus on Starting Today – Start saving as much as you can now and let compound interest – the ability of your assets to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate their own earnings – have an opportunity to work for you.  Develop a plan and stick to it.

2 – Take Advantage of Your Employer’s 401(k) plan – Try to save at least 10-15% of your pay in a tax-advantaged retirement account, such as a 401(k).  Make sure to increase your contribution or at least set up an auto-escalation so that you put in more each year.

3 – Meet Your Employer’s Match – If you employer offers to match your 401(k) contributions, make sure you contribute enough to take full advantage of the match.  For example, an employer may offer to match 50% of employee contributions up to 5% of your salary.  That means that if you earn “$50,000 per year and contribute $2,500 to your retirement plan, your employer would add another $1,250.  It is essentially free money!   Don’t leave it on the table.

4 – Invest in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) – There are two IRA options: a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.  The taxes from your contributions and withdrawals are different with these two types of IRA’s so be sure to choose the type that is right for you.

5 – Take Advantage of Catch-Up Contributions – Turning 50 years old has some advantages, including being able to contribute more to your retirement account with catch-up contributions.  In 2022, you can add an extra $6,500 per year in catch-up contributions, bringing your total 401(k) contributions to $27,000.  For either a traditional or a Roth IRA, the annual catch-up amount is $1,000 which boosts your total contribution to $7,000.

6 – Find Out About Your Social Security Benefits – Social Security retirement benefits replace 40% of pre-retirement income for retirement beneficiaries.  You can estimate your benefit by using the retirement estimator on the Social Security Administration’s website.

Debra Greenberg, Director of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America said, “Recognizing the need to put money away for retirement is the first step.”  Understanding how much you want to save and setting goals to achieve your financial goals is vital.  Starting too late and saving too little is a common regret among retirees.  Making the effort now can help you look forward to your golden years.

Even with these tips, you’ll need more information.  Talk to your bank or financial advisor to get practical advice to start saving today!

4 Ways to Recession-Proof HR

4 Ways to Recession-Proof HR

By all accounts, the United States is likely heading into a recession. Already, the country experienced two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product (GDP), which is a red flag.

Other signs include inflation, the cooling down of venture capitalist’s investment, a declining stock market, and varying interest rates. However, a strong job market persists, which throws off the usual domino effect, according to CNBC. Still, how people feel about their financial prospects matters, too.

Most Human Resources leaders are preparing for the worst. A recession is marked by an extended downturn in the economy, layoffs, unemployment, and lower consumer spending. For HR, recessions are magnified because they usually face the downsizing of their own department and the need to layoff talent, make due with less, and face the obvious consequences, which include having to constrict budget and lose talent pipelines for succession.

Therefore, Human Resources is usually keen on recession-proofing their business, and many have begun to do just that. Here are some ways to prepare for the coming storm:

Stick to the Budget

The pandemic made employees rethink their lives and shift their priorities. As a result, many were willing to leave the workforce unless employers transformed how they worked. The consequence was the Great Resignation. Whether one likes or hates that title, there is no question that the phenomenon of people quitting and a resulting labor shortage, which is also dependent on changing demographics, are real.

HR responded with signing bonuses and hefty pay raises. They plussed perks and benefits. With an oncoming recession, however, some of these tools for attracting talent must be curtailed or flat out stopped. Those with the future in mind are cutting back and avoiding risk when developing budgets.

Prioritize Employee Engagement and Experience

Smart Human Resources leaders recognize that the pandemic earned them their seat among C-suite executives. Business leaders are well aware that the talent churning out the work is vital to their success.

In many ways, employee engagement and experience is even more important in a recession. If there are layoffs, the people who remain become paramount. At the same time, they are likely overworked and stressed by the economy, not to mention the prospects of their organization. HR should step in and show gratitude and do what it can to keep up morale. Writing thank you cards and lending an ear are affordable ways to connect with workers.

Be Transparent

Transparency is of the utmost importance during a recession. Obviously, organizations keep their plans for layoffs under wraps until the last minute. However, they should be able to offer honesty to the employees who remain.

Obviously, they are going to be concerned for their own future, what these layoffs mean for the future of the company, and how their work life will change from this point on. Will they be doing more work to fill in for those who had been let go? Are there going to be freezes on annual raises? How grave is the situation?

Human Resources is the conduit for communication with workers. HR leaders can communicate forthrightly and encourage executives to do the same. They can set up town halls, similar to the ones they planned during the pandemic, with business leaders in their organization. This kind of approach is crisis management 101.

Be Prepared for Layoffs

Layoffs are already happening at a number of companies, including Peloton, Netflix, and Ford. Google announced a hiring freeze. So, realistic HR leaders will prepare themselves for the possibility of stalemate at best and layoffs at worst. Also, they will avoid layoff mistakes, like informing people they are being let go in a cruel way like, for example, over a group Zoom meeting. While no one wants a recession to happen, smart HR leaders are getting ready for the worst case scenarios.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

Gen Z: Is Quiet Quitting a Problem or a Wake-Up Call?

Gen Z: Is Quiet Quitting a Problem or a Wake-Up Call?

Many young employees from Gen Z are taking to TikTok to express their frustration about the workplace and profess their practice of quiet quitting. Essentially, they are remaining at their jobs and still receiving paychecks and benefits, but they are sticking strictly to their the job descriptions and maintaining precise schedules.

On social media, some are bragging about doing the bare minimum because of their disappointment in their employer or simply as a lifestyle choice. Some older workers are suggesting this is a result of laziness or lack of ambition. Many in Gen Z argue that they are simply doing what is expected of them contractually, and nothing more, to maintain work-life balance.

The Phenomenon of Quiet Quitting

More than 3.9 million TikTok posts (and presumably counting) have addressed this phenomenon. Many explain that quiet quitting is really about setting boundaries and improving work-life balance or fighting the proverbial man.

“You’re not quiet quitting,” says Claudia Alick in a TikTok video. “You’re just resisting being stolen from. Unfortunately, that’s how capitalism works. That’s how they make a profit. The profit comes from you not getting paid your full value.”

But some career experts and even other TikTok users suggest that young employees are playing with fire. By never going above and beyond, they are making themselves vulnerable to layoffs at a time when budget is a concern. In addition, they might rule themselves out of promotions down the road.

Emily Smith, a TikTok user, reminds people that their boss might not know all their tasks or how long it takes for them to get everything done. She suggests having a conversation about what to prioritize and how to spread out the deadlines is a better route than quiet quitting. Others suggest this practice is bad news for employers.

“Experts say any lack of motivation among a  company’s youngest workers can become a troubling sign. ‘Organizations are dependent on employees doing more than a minimum,'” says Mark Royal, senior director for Korn Ferry Advisory, according to a Korn Ferry blog.

What Should HR Do?

HR leaders should investigate the phenomenon of quiet quitting to determine whether it is happening at their organization. After all, a lack of employee engagement is top of mind in Human Resources. Thirty percent of those who responded to the latest State of HR report said employee engagement and experience is their top priority.

The pandemic forced people to rethink their lifestyle and reprioritize work. For many, family, friends, and personal pursuits have replaced work in the top spot. Some say that quiet quitting is the new checking out. Regardless, the Great Resignation has shown that employers, who do not take these shifts in culture seriously, will pay in a loss of talent.

At the same time, the top consequence of the pandemic, according to the respondents of State of HR, was burnout. That may be why TikTok users are leading the charge to demand better working conditions. Certainly, HR leaders are responding with different benefits, such as unlimited PTO and zen rooms, and policies like devising rules that limit calls and emails outside of work hours.

Even Goldman Sachs, famous for its 100-hour work weeks for associates, is requiring employees to take paid time off. Salesforce is testing work weeks with no meetings. Others are experimenting with four-day work weeks, flexibility in when and where employees work, and company-wide vacation days. This experimentation is part of the transformation of work that everyone is witnessing post pandemic.

The question becomes whether quiet quitting is an afront to employers that will degrade their ability to serve customers and innovate or is simply a new way of working that puts people’s personal lives and wellbeing above everything else. Perhaps, this is just part of the cultural shift and workplace transformation the country has been experiencing since the start of the pandemic.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

What Employees Want: Financial Wellness

What Employees Want: Financial Wellness

“Financial Wellness” is getting a lot of buzz these days — and for good reason!  After all, today’s workforce is overwhelmed by mounting student debt and other rising expenses.

Financial wellness refers to a person’s overall financial health and is one of many factors that makes up employee wellbeing.  We often think of wellbeing as related to physical and mental health, but financial stress impacts a person’s health as well.  When employees are stressed about their financial situation it effects their productivity, attendance and engagement in the workplace.

Organizations are continually looking for ways to stay competitive and have an advantage in attracting and retaining qualified employees. With the current economic conditions, people are looking for jobs that offer more than just paid time off and health insurance.  Therefore, many businesses have turned their focus to employee financial wellness programs to add value to their compensation packages.  More than  51% of organizations offer financial wellness initiatives and 29% of companies are interested in launching financial wellness programs. Offered as a voluntary benefit, financial wellness programs send employees a valuable message, letting them know their company cares about them and is ready to extend a helping hand to those in need.

The goal of implementing a financial wellness program is to support and improve the financial health of employees by providing tools and resources to help them manage their current finances, protect against unforeseen financial hardships, and plan for a financially secure future.

Let’s take a look at some of the financial wellness solutions available:

  • Educational Programs – An education-focused program that equips employees with the information they need to plan for emergencies using current employer benefits. Financial guidance sessions and financial education workshops are available via live chat that teach employees about budgeting, credit scores, retirement savings and savings accounts.
  • Employer Matching Programs – A matching program involves an employer matching a certain percentage of contributions that employees make to their 401k, student loan repayment or a 529 (college savings) fund.
  • Financial Assistance Programs – These programs focus on alternative stressors employees might not have considered as a factor in their financial health. These include medical bill zero-interest financing, medical bill negotiation, relocation assistance and stock options.
  • Insurance Options – Employers can consider including alternative insurance programs such as long-term care insurance, pet insurance, adoption and fertility insurance, accident insurance, critical illness insurance, and life and disability insurance.

Over the past year, employee financial distress has intensified, which means it’s the perfect opportunity to bring financial education into your workplace.  It won’t be easy.  Reducing financial stress and improving financial health for your employees takes a comprehensive plan, but it will be worth the investment.  Your commitment to prioritizing financial health will help improve the lives of your employees.  Financially healthy employees are healthier and happier; they are better for the company’s bottom line.

Controlling Employee Benefit Costs Amidst Inflation

Controlling Employee Benefit Costs Amidst Inflation

Inflation is a silent budget killer- it causes everything to go up, from your groceries to your gas, as the purchasing power of money decreases.  Americans are feeling the pinch as the U.S. experiences the highest inflation level in 40 years.

Inflation has been particularly frustrating for Americans who are struggling to pay for items such as housing, food, energy, and vehicles.  However, consumer goods aren’t the only thing that have increased – employee benefit costs are also on the rise.  With rising inflation rates, many employers are struggling with rising healthcare costs.  A survey of large employers from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 96% of respondents agree that the high costs of offering healthcare to their employees are excessive.

With inflation increasing, you may be tempted to cut benefits packages, but now more than ever, a generous benefits and perks package is crucial to retaining employees.  In fact, 63% of companies say that retaining is harder than hiring them.  Amidst the Great Resignation, HR is having to figure out how to alleviate the increasing benefit costs without passing those costs on to their employees and facing even greater turnover.  Fortunately, there are some strategies that employers can use to remain competitive in today’s market while still providing quality benefits for their employees:

  • Foster a Healthy Workforce – The healthier your employees are, the less likely they are to have extensive healthcare costs. Wellness programs are a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle.  A cost-effective way to provide wellness benefits while helping employees through periods of high inflation is through a wellness stipend. With a wellness stipend, you reimburse your employees for their wellness costs such as gym memberships, home exercise equipment and wellness apps.
  • Encourage the Use of Virtual Medical Services – With telemedicine, employees can schedule an appointment with your health care provider or specialist. They don’t have to drive to the doctor’s office, park or sit in a waiting room.  They can see their doctor from the comfort of their bed or sofa which makes it easier to fit into a busy schedule.  Telemedicine appointments are usually short visits, so employees can get back to work more quickly.
  • Supplement Your Group Plan With a Group Coverage HRA – One strategy employers can implement to lower costs while extending coverage is to add a high deductible health plan(HDHP) to their group plan offerings and supplement it with a group coverage HRA (GCHRA), also known as an integrated HRA.
  • Eliminate Benefits that Employees Don’t Use – Take a microscopic look at all the benefits you provide. Do you see any that aren’t being utilized enough to justify the cost of providing them?  A great way to learn which of your benefits your employees are and aren’t using is by sending out an employee benefits survey.  Your company can then invest the money from underused benefits to something that your employees value more.

While it may be tempting to simply reduce your benefits offerings during periods of inflation, it doesn’t have to be that way.   Comprehensive benefits attract better employees and retain them for the long haul—meaning employers benefit from a more productive and satisfied workforce.