The financial crisis of 2008 had an unintended consequence which was that employers stopped putting matching contributions in their employees' 401(k) accounts. According to a recent Plan Sponsor Council of America report, "Annual Survey of Profit Sharing and 401(k) Plans," 65 percent of plans that offer a match provide a fixed match, while 35 percent offered a graded match.

Arnerich Massena, Inc. released a report this month looking at the effects of matching on a plan.  According to the analysis, many reports suggest that an employer match increases employee participation in a plan. Other research finds that since many plans automatically enroll participants into a plan with a match, it is hard to distinguish who is choosing to participate because of the match and who isn't.

"Ironically, some forms of employer contributions, such as maintaining a separate defined benefit plan or profit sharing contributions can be a disincentive to participation in a defined contribution plan. Employees may feel as if they are already building up enough of a nest egg through employer-provided funds and that there is thus less need to save for retirement on their own," the report said.

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