Focus on the future

Employees and employers are taking action to protect retirement savings against today’s economic challenges


July 26, 2022

In response to rising costs and market volatility, workers are changing how they save, invest and spend, according to the annual nationwide survey of 401(k) plan participants from Schwab Retirement Plan Services.

Key findings:

  • Inflation is hurting. Inflation is the biggest barrier to saving for a comfortable retirement, and financial strain continues to take a toll on mental health, but most employers are stepping up to help their workers.
  • Most workers feel they’re doing well financially, but more are struggling than last yearA third of 401(k) plan participants don’t know how long their savings will last in retirement.
  • Six in 10 workers believe their financial situation warrants advice. Professional advice increases confidence in 401(k) investment decisions, but many workers still see obstacles to obtaining it.


Retirement expectations 

Retirement expectations 

Workers expect their 401(k) to be the primary financial resource in retirement, providing 37% of income, followed by Social Security (17% of income). They now believe they’ll need to save an average of $1.7 million for retirement, down from $1.9 million reported in last year’s survey, and just less than half (47%) feel they’re very likely to reach their retirement-savings goal.

Inflation’s impact

 The top obstacle to saving—rising prices—is changing spending, saving and investing habits for 79% of workers.

Impact of Inflation on Spending, Saving and Investing

Employees are stressed, but employers are helping

Employees are stressed, but employers are helping

Financial strain has taken a toll on mental health. Only 15% of employees say they have not been under financial stress, and more than a quarter of respondents (26%) say financial stress has impacted their ability to do their job in the past year.

Fortunately, most employers (60%) took action to help workers manage financial stress, in several different ways:

Employers' actions to help employees manage financial stress

Advice increases confidence

Advice increases confidence

Workers' confidence in their ability to make 401(k) investment decisions increases with the help of a financial professional.

Confidence in investment decisions

Specifically, workers want help with:

  • How to invest their 401(k) (43%)

  • Calculating how much money to save for retirement (42%)

  • Creating an income stream in retirement (38%)

  • Determining at what age they can afford to retire (36%)

  • Anticipating taxes in retirement (32%)

However, workers cite cost and other limitations as reasons they wouldn’t seek financial advice via their employer.

Reasons for not seeking advice via employer

Employers can help debunk misconceptions about financial advice available through the workplace. Many plans offer different levels of advice to workers at no additional cost or low cost.



"As workers face economic challenges, employers can help by raising awareness about accessibility to financial advice."


Catherine Golladay, Head of Schwab Workplace Financial Services


Attract and keep top employees  

Attract and keep employees  

With talent management so important for employers these days, showing support for employees—and quality 401(k) plan offerings are just the start—plays a key role in both loyalty and recruitment.



About the survey

The Schwab 401(k) Participant Study is an annual online survey of 1,000 actively employed U.S. 401(k) savers between 21 and 70 years old that delivers insights into what workers think about retirement, workplace issues, personal finance, saving, investing, and planning. The 2022 Study was conducted by Logica Research for Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc, between April 4 and April 19, 2022. Logica Research is neither affiliated with, nor employed by, Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc. Read the full press release >


Past 401(k) Surveys:

  • September 22, 2021

    Schwab 401(k) Study Finds Younger Workers Stressed About Money But Optimistic About Improving Financial Habits

  • June 23, 2021

    Schwab 401(k) Survey Shows Sharp Increase in Confidence and Demand for Financial Advice

  • August 4, 2020

    Schwab 401(k) Survey Finds Savings Goals and Stress Levels on the Rise

More Research from Charles Schwab

  • May 18, 2022

    The Rise of Values Investing: Schwab’s Modern Wealth Survey Finds Values are Driving Spending, Saving & Investing Decisions of Americans More Than Ever

  • February 25, 2021

    New Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey Shows Black Americans Continue to Trail Their White Counterparts in Building Wealth

  • September 28, 2021

    Schwab Study Finds That One In Three Investors Will Adopt Technology At A Faster Rate To Manage Finances Post-Pandemic



Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc. and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. are separate but affiliated companies and subsidiaries of The Charles Schwab Corporation. Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc. provides recordkeeping and related services with respect to retirement plans. Brokerage products and services are offered by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Workplace Financial Services is a business enterprise which offers products and services through Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc.; Schwab Stock Plan Services; and Compliance Solutions. Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc., provides recordkeeping and related services with respect to retirement plans. Schwab Stock Plan Services is a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. providing equity compensation plan services and brokerage solutions for corporate clients. Compliance Solutions is comprised of Schwab Designated Brokerage Services (DBS), a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. DBS provides brokerage solutions for corporate clients who monitor their employees' securities activity. Schwab Retirement Plan Services, Inc., and Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. are separate but affiliated entities, and each is a subsidiary of The Charles Schwab Corporation.