Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker Study

Jacquelyn K. Reardon, RMA® 
Vice President – Head of CX for Retirement, Insurance, 529, & Wealth Management
Franklin Templeton

Franklin Templeton’s Voice of the American Worker study, now in its third year, uncovered some interesting new trends and also a reversal in others that had taken root during the COVID-19 lockdown period. One thing that’s clear is workers today are feeling more financial stress and concern, which also has implications for employers.

5 23 blogThe Voice of the American Worker annual survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Franklin Templeton, is connected to Franklin Templeton’s Retirement Innovation Initiative (RII), which launched in January 2020. RII’s mission is to bring together industry experts who share the same vision—improving the future of retirement in the United States. The survey respondents represent a snapshot of the US workforce: across the country, across industry, and across generations and backgrounds.

Throughout the last three years, some evergreen trends have been reconfirmed year over year:

  • Workers continue to seek improved well-being and need support in addressing existing roadblocks.
  • A focus on well-being continues to include urgency in improving financial health with key opportunities for employer support.
  • Workers remain more focused on financial independence than traditional retirement.
  • There has never been a more urgent time for employers to evaluate their benefit offerings and consider ways to evolve how employee needs are supported.

Financial independence remains a top priority.  

If financial independence is defined as “having enough income or wealth sufficient to pay one’s living expenses without having to be employed or dependent on others”, the path to achieving financial independence will not look the same for everyone.

Survey finding: All in all, regardless of the current economic or workforce environment, employees continue to view financial independence as their primary north star. This year, 74% stated financial independence is their top financial concern, up from 69% in last year’s study. In addition, 81% of respondents said they are more focused on becoming financially independent. Among other concerns, the next most important was paying off debt (61%), which was up 7% since last year. That is not surprising given that US credit card debt levels just hit a 20-year high.

Action item for employers: We as an industry and employers have a key opportunity to engage employees across the full spectrum of financial aspects and provide holistic support in helping employees reach financial independence. Three-quarters (77%) of survey respondents said they’d be more likely to participate or contribute more to their retirement savings if there were more personalized 401(k) investment options, and they are seeking access to advice. They want access to a financial advisor, they want auto-enrollment, tax guidance, budgeting and debt guidance.

The Voice of the American Worker study was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Franklin Templeton from October 17 to October 27, 2022, among 1,000 employed U.S. adults. All respondents had some form of retirement savings. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Findings from 2020 reference a study of a similar nature that was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Franklin Templeton from October 16 to 28, 2020, among 1,007 employed U.S. adults, and findings from 2021 reference a similar survey conducted among 1,005 employed adults from October 28 to November 15, 2021.Franklin Templeton is not affiliated with The Harris Poll, Harris Insights & Analytics, a Stagwell LLC Company.

For additional information, please contact the Franklin Templeton Workplace Retirement team at (800) 342-5236, or visit 


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