Employees Report Varied Levels of Confidence Making Retirement Plan Decisions, While 73 Percent Want More Retirement Planning Information

With schools facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) and ICMA-RC have released new research that assesses K-12 public school employees’ views on their job and benefit satisfaction, familiarity with mutual funds and annuities, sources of financial information, debt, and school diversity.

The research, Survey Findings: K-12 Public School Employee Views on Job and Benefits, is available here.

The survey results indicate that the K-12 public school workforce is passionate about their profession, especially the ability to serve the community and their job security. However, the research suggests that if significant cuts were made to their salary or benefits, many educators would leave their jobs. The research also reveals that many public school employees would like more information about their retirement benefits and retirement planning, especially when it comes to managing their investments.

“While K-12 public school employees have always been integral to educating and inspiring our nation’s youth, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified recognition of their importance,” said Rivka Liss-Levinson, PhD, SLGE director of research and report author.

“To recruit and retain top talent as the economic effects of the pandemic unfold, schools will need to consider the importance K-12 public school workers place on their job security, salary, and benefits. We hope this research provides policymakers with valuable information as they make critical workforce decisions that will have long-lasting impacts,” she explained.

“The research indicates that 70 percent of K-12 employees are either somewhat or not very confident when it comes to making retirement plan decisions on their own,” says Bruce Corcoran, ICMA-RC managing vice president, head of education, healthcare and not-for-profit business. “This study reinforces the opportunity for better and more engaging education for K-12 employees, giving them the ability to make informed decision as they save and work towards their well-deserved retirement.”

The report key findings are summarized below.

  • K-12 public school employees are generally satisfied with their employer. They are most satisfied with the ability to serve their community (83 percent), their job security (77 percent), and the personal satisfaction they receive from their job (75 percent). These are the three job elements employees say are most competitive with the labor market and that were most influential in attracting them to their job.
  • Employees would be most likely to leave their job if significant cuts were made to their salary (75 percent), defined benefit (DB) pension plan (60 percent), or health insurance (58 percent).
  • K-12 public school employees vary in how often they review their defined contribution (DC) retirement account results. Twenty-one percent of respondents are very comfortable investing and managing their DC accounts, and 51 percent are somewhat comfortable doing so.
  • Overall, respondents have more favorable than unfavorable views of both annuities and mutual funds. Approximately one-third of those with a DC plan are given the option by their employer to invest in annuities and in mutual funds. Among those given the option, most choose to do so (75 percent for annuities and 82 percent for mutual funds).
  • K-12 public school employees report varying levels of confidence when it comes to making retirement plan decisions on their own. To make these decisions, they most often turn to a friend or family member who isn’t a financial professional (40 percent) or to a financial professional associated with their employer (34 percent).
  • While only 23 percent of K-12 employees report that the racial/ethnic composition of their school’s faculty and staff and the student population are a close match, nearly three in four say having a racially/ethnically diverse faculty and staff positively impacts student achievement. Employees also indicate that it is important for schools to have a racially/ethnically diverse faculty and staff, regardless of the makeup of the student population.

This report is based on the results of a national online survey of 400 state and local government K-12 public school employees, conducted in March of 2020 by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) and Greenwald & Associates.

SLGE gratefully acknowledges ICMA-RC for their support of this research initiative.

 

About ICMA-RC

Founded in 1972, ICMA-RC is a non-profit, independent financial services corporation with approximately $53 billion in assets under management and administration (as of March 31, 2020), focused on providing retirement plans and related services for over a million public sector participant accounts. ICMA-RC’s mission is to help public sector employees build retirement security. The organization’s mission is delivered through its RealizeRetirement® approach in which ICMA-RC representatives actively engage participants in their retirement programs, help them build their asset base, and help them realize their retirement goals through a comprehensive retirement planning strategy. For more information, visit www.icmarc.org, download ICMA-RC’s mobile app from the App Store® and Google PlayTM or follow ICMA-RC on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

 

Media Contacts:

Center for State and Local Government Excellence | Kelly Kenneally | 202.256.1445 | [email protected]

ICMA-RC | Aprile Pritchet | 202.962.8067 | [email protected]