As their employee base ages closer to retirement, employers are adding tools to help those older employees better prepare for the big day.
That’s according to Aon Hewitt’s “2017 Hot Topics in Retirement and Financial Wellbeing” survey, which found that employers are taking action to improve employee benefits and help workers plan for a secure financial footing, not just now but when they retire.
Not only are employers focusing on enhancing both accumulation and decumulation phases for defined contribution plan participants, they’re taking a range of steps to do so—from improved education to encouraging higher savings rates.
Just 15 percent of respondents are comfortable with the average savings rate in their plan; among the rest, 62 percent are very likely to act on increasing that savings level during 2017, whether by increasing defaults, changing contribution escalation provisions, or sending targeted communications to participants.
And only 10 percent of employers are satisfied with employees’ knowledge about how much constitutes an adequate amount of retirement savings, and nearly all dissatisfied employers (87 percent) are likely to take some action this year to help workers plan to reach retirement goals.
In addition, more employers are providing options for participants to convert their balances into retirement income. Currently just over half of employers (51 percent) allow individuals to receive automatic payments from the plan over an extended period of time.
They’re also derisking through various means, whether by adopting asset portfolios that match the characteristics of the plan’s liabilities (currently 40 percent of employers use this strategy, but the prevalence is expected to grow to more than 50 percent by year end), considering the purchase of annuities for at least some participants (28 percent are considering this action) or planning to offer a lump-sum window to terminated vested participants (32 percent are in this camp).
Why are employers suddenly so interested in how well employees are financially prepared for retirement?
According to Rob Austin, director of retirement research at Aon Hewitt, not only do employees not really understand how to convert a lump sum retirement plan balance into retirement income that they can live on, and employers are also worried that employees will mishandle that lump sum when the time comes and end up broke.
So some employers are tackling the issue by folding in more information about 401(k) plans with the annual enrollment process, in an effort to get employees to think more holistically about their benefits packages.
They're also encouraging them to consider increasing contributions to their retirement plan while they’re already enmeshed in other enrollments.