Big ideas. Better retirements.

Subscribe Opens dialog

Millennial and Gen Z retirement anxiety

Retirement? What retirement? 

Read time: 2 minutes

Young adults just starting their careers feel an overwhelming amount of financial anxiety — first job, first job change, first retirement plan, first home and often student loans to repay. 

All of that influences how they look at their financial lives and futures. It’s no wonder they feel more optimistic about their influence on global issues than their own retirements, according to a recent study from TIAA Institute and Georgetown University. The highlights:

  • Millennials and Gen Z think reversing global issues seems more achievable than a secure retirement. 
  • Employers can fix this perspective by meeting younger workers where they are.

Reducing financial anxiety

The TIAA Institute and the AgingWell Hub at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business surveyed 1,009 full-time workers between 24 and 35 years old. The research found more than half (56%) feel they can influence issues like social injustice, climate change and political divisions. But nearly half said living for today is a better choice when thinking about present-day global challenges.

But they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Employers can help younger people improve their retirement outlooks as they work to make a difference in the world. The research highlighted a couple ways. 

  • Promote financial wellness. More than two in five young adults (42%) say they live paycheck to paycheck, among other cash flow findings. It’s clear we need to focus on guiding young adults through those years when it feels like they’ll never make enough to live, let alone retire.
  • Play to their channels. Gender significantly affects how financial education is consumed, the research discovered. To ensure messages are absorbed regardless of gender, we need to use the communication channels young adults told us they prefer.
  • Tell them. Tell them again. And again once more. The survey brought to light big retirement language knowledge gaps, particularly around risk and guaranteed income. It’s clear retirement education can never stop when explaining benefits.

Bottom line: make retirement education a competitive advantage

Employers need to meet millennials and Gen Z where they are in life, technology and language. Savvy HR professionals will apply that thinking to help attract and keep talent. 

We also must listen. Young adults have told us how we can help them. It’s time we helped them appropriately–and accurately–understand retirement. That will reduce retirement anxiety for us all.

Learn what else millennials and Gen Z told us about their financial anxiety in the full article hereOpens pdf.

Guaranteed Income: What do they know?

Does your retirement plan provide a guaranteed minimum income?

We asked participants if their retirement plan provides lifetime income. Thirty-five percent confirmed their plan does.

(n= 732 have retirement savings plan)

Explore other articles in this issue

Cracking 60/40 open

Should annuities be considered a separate asset class?

Income is the outcome

It’s not what you save, it’s what you spend that matters.

Happiness is ... retirement security

How owning annuities leads to happier, healthier lives.

Wisdom at work

Real consultants answer real questions from real employers. 

Like TMRW so far? Read our full publication for more insights.
Get TIAA’s thought leadership first.
Sign up for more Opens dialog
Did you miss TMRW’s first edition?

Any guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.

TIAA Institute is a division of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), New York, NY.