Americans seek advice as pandemic increases financial stress

In our seventh financial stress survey, we’ve uncovered how the pandemic is affecting participants. We also learned how financial wellness programs help to improve not only the lives of participants, but also employers' ability to attract and retain talent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased financial stress among American workers

  • 58%

    more people are feeling financial stress during the pandemic than before it began


  • 79%

    are worried about the current economic conditions



  • 73%

    are worried about not having enough retirement savings

  • 22%

    have dipped into their emergency savings

The cost of financial stress to the employer has increased during the pandemic

  • $2,169

    is the annual cost of financial stress to the employer in lost productivity and absenteeism—per employee


  • Absenteeism

    due to financial stress more than doubled from 2019 to 2020

  • 43%

    of workers spend time on their finances at work

Workers are more receptive than ever to getting help with financial wellness

  • 86%

    of workers feel it’s important for employers to offer a financial wellness program


  • 69%

    say financial wellness programs help reduce financial stress



  • 62%

    would like their employer to help them assess their financial wellness

  • 59%

    say it increases their company loyalty

People want help preparing for retirement

  • They're looking for help with:

    1 Personalized retirement income and expense projections

    2 Professional help with retirement planning and managing investments

    3 Assessing financial wellness

    4 Making a budget

    5 College savings


Important disclosures

In July 2020, John Hancock sponsored our seventh annual financial stress survey. Working with the respected research firm Greenwald & Associates, we surveyed more than 500 workers to learn more about individual stress levels, their causes and impacts, and strategies for relief.

John Hancock and Greenwald & Associates are not affiliated, and neither is responsible for the liabilities of the other.

The John Hancock financial stress survey is a commissioned study prepared for John Hancock by Greenwald & Associates. This information is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal or investment advice. This report presents the results of research conducted by Greenwald & Associates on behalf of John Hancock. The objectives of this study were to (1) quantify the financial situation and level of financial stress of John Hancock’s plan participants; (2) determine the key triggers of financial stress; (3) understand the extent to which actions, including actual financial behavior and planning activity, ameliorate stress; and (4) assess retirement preparation and readiness. It was an online survey of 589 John Hancock plan participants. The survey was conducted from July 28, 2020, through August 14, 2020, with an average survey length of approximately 19 minutes per respondent. Respondents were located from a list of eligible plan participants provided by John Hancock. All statistical testing is done at 0.95 and 0.99 significance levels. The maximum margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level is ± 4.1%.