The vast majority (84 per cent) of Canadian employees consider an employer-sponsored retirement plan to be a critical benefit, according to a new survey by Manulife Investment Management Holdings (Canada) Inc.

It found 60 per cent of employees would be unlikely to work for a company that doesn’t offer a retirement plan. In addition, employees who participate in a retirement plan said they’ll be ready to retire when originally planned (60 per cent) or earlier (11 per cent).

Roughly 60 per cent of respondents said they’re interested in receiving help from their employer when it comes to opening an emergency savings account, education savings tools or managing their budget. Meanwhile, about 70 per cent said they’re at least moderately interested in receiving recommendations on Canada Pension Plan strategies from their employers.

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Three-quarters (75 per cent) said a financial wellness program would have or has at least some impact on reducing financial stress, making a positive impact on their productivity. More than two-thirds (70 per cent) rated their financial position as good or better than it was pre-coronavirus pandemic, with respondents ranking paying off debt (45 per cent), investing wisely (36 per cent) and planning for retirement (35 per cent) as their top financial goals for 2022.

However, 30 per cent of respondents said they’ve felt extreme stress in the past six months. The main sources of stress reported were personal finance (36 per cent), workload (34 per cent), relationships (31 per cent) and work-life balance (30 per cent). Nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) said they worry about personal finances at work at least once a week. And while 40 per cent said they feel optimistic that things will get better in the year ahead, another 40 per cent said they expect things to stay the same for a while.

“Canadians are feeling the impacts of the pandemic, which include financial stress for so many,” said Brett Marchand, head of retirement at Manulife Investment Management, in a press release. “The study’s findings underscore the importance for individuals to seek — and workplaces to provide — continued financial guidance. Advisors and workplaces have an opportunity to help reduce Canadians’ financial stress by offering support that will help increase their knowledge of investment opportunities and confidence when making financial decisions.”

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