Many employees would take lower salary for bigger 401(k) match

Nanci Hellmich

Employees value generous 401(k) matches from their employers.

Read MoreHow to best investin 401(k)s, IRAs

About four out of 10 employees (43%) say that they would take a lower salary if they were offered a bigger employer contribution to their 401(k) retirement plan, a new Fidelity Investments study shows.

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On average, employers add more than 35% of the total contributions to employees' workplace retirement accounts, said Doug Fisher, senior vice president of Workplace Investing at Fidelity.

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"Most people are going to have to rely on their retirement savings for about half of their retirement income, so it's critical they participate early in 401(k)s and participate to the level to get the valuable company match."

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According to the survey of 1,026 people, 25 and older, who were employed and contributing to a workplace retirement plan, 42% of them are not saving in any way for retirement other than their 401(k).

Among the other ways that the respondents are building a nest egg for their golden years: 31%, IRAs; 23%, a taxable account; 19%, investing in real estate; 15%, company pension; 1%, savings account; the rest are saving in other ways.

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Half of respondents say that too many things about saving for retirement are out of their control.Other Fidelity data show that almost 79% of the workplace retirement plans which it administers offer some type of employer contribution, such as 401(k) match or profit sharing. This covers 96% of Fidelity's 13 million plan participants.

The average employer contribution was 4.3% as of June 30. Employers contribute an average of $3,540 per employee annually, which is more than $1,000 higher than the average employer contribution a decade ago.

"The company match is alive and well and quite valuable," Fisher says.

—By Nanci Hellmich, USA Today