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Employee Trends To Consider in Your Retirement Plan Design Strategy

June 12 2023

taking a cueT. Rowe Price’s 2022 “Participant Reactions and Trends” report revealed that employees have largely stayed the course during the market volatility, economic uncertainty and many other challenges over the past few years. However, the study also identified some interesting trends that have emerged. Such trends, shown in the following list, can help inform your plan design strategy and additional educational areas to focus on for the remainder of your plan year.

 Digital Content Is King. Participants consumed nearly three times more digital retirement educational content in 2022 than in 2021. The most significant increase was with participants over 50 years old consuming content focused on retirement savings goals.

A Hard No. Participants have taken slightly more hardship withdrawals (4% more in 2022 vs. the 10-year average) but the amount of those withdrawals has decreased by over 20% compared to 2021.

Staying on Target. Ninety-nine percent of participants stayed the course and didn’t make a change in their investment strategy in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022. In addition, participants with 100% invested in a target date product were 15 times less likely to make a change than those with 0% invested in a target date product during Q4 2022.

You Are What You Owe. Participants who take multiple loans per year have a deferral rate that is lower — by an average of 2.3 percentage points — than those who do not take multiple loans.

Maxing Out the Tax-Deferred Compounding Opportunity. Participants who are near retirement and have not taken a hardship withdrawal have an average of three times more in savings than their counterparts who have taken a hardship withdrawal.

Plan Sponsor Considerations

Here are a few strategies to consider that could help support the positives in these trends:

  • Consider reinforcing educational efforts to help increase awareness and knowledge of target date funds.
  • Continue to educate employees about the ramifications of taking a loan or hardship withdrawal, along with the opportunity cost related to tax-deferred compounding.
  • Expand your offering of sustainable retirement planning tools and look to enhance digital content and communication mediums offered, giving employees a diversity of ways to learn, acquire knowledge and boost financial literacy.
  • It may sound simple, but there is perhaps no better way to support employee retirement savings than by continuing to promote the concept of tax-deferred compounding and the potential growth opportunity it offers.
  • If you aren’t already, consider implementing emergency savings vehicles for employees, such as those now available through the passing of SECURE Act 2.0.

 The 2022 report findings can be viewed here and at The report is based on plans with approximate assets >$25 million with T. Rowe Price as the recordkeeper.



  1. T. Rowe Price. (2022). Participant Reactions and Trends. 2022 Participant Reactions and Trends (

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