Personal Finance

Workers want employers to help more with retirement planning

Key Points
  • While most workers like the idea of workers being automatically enrolled 401(k) plan, just 22 percent of employers do it. The biggest reason cited for not offering the feature is concern about employee resistance.
  • Close to half of employees want to be able to ease into retirement either by going part-time or shifting to a less stressful position. Just 20 percent of employers have programs in place to allow that.

Many employers appear to be missing the mark when it comes to helping workers prepare for their golden years.

While just 16 percent of companies are "very confident" that their employees will be financial secure in retirement, they also often fail to offer the savings tools that their workers actually want, a new study from the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies shows.

"There's a basic disconnect related to worker expectations," said Catherine Collison, president and CEO of the center and its parent, the Transamerica Institute. "Even though some employers recognize it, they don't always have the business practices in place to support it."

For example, 81 percent of workers like the idea of companies automatically enrolling workers in their 401(k) plan, the study found. However, just 22 percent of employers provide the feature. The biggest reason cited for not offering it is concern about employee resistance.

Additionally, most employers assume that workers don't want to give thought to retirement until they're on the verge of leaving the work force. In contrast, just 40 percent of employees say the same.

The study also showed that many employees want to be able to ease into retirement either via part-time work or by shifting to a less demanding position. Yet just 20 percent of companies have a formal program in place to facilitate a phased-in retirement.

At the same time, 70 percent of companies consider themselves "aging-friendly," compared with 56 percent of workers who feel that way.

The findings are based on results of Transamerica Center's 18th annual retirement survey, which canvassed more than 1,800 employers of all sizes and nearly 6,400 workers in late 2017.

Part of the disconnect arises from employers' benefits failing to keep up with shifting attitudes about retirement, Collison said.

"Times have changed quickly," she said. "Employers were focused on getting through the recession, and they haven't regrouped."

One point where there's agreement: Just 18 percent of employees are "very confident" that their retirement will be financially secure, compared with the 16 percent of employers with the same view.

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