Employees in company retirement plans know they should set money aside but still fall short with their savings -- and employers could help them save more without increasing company costs, a study has found.
The majority of participants in 401(k) savings plans say they should set aside 10 to 12 percent of their salary, on par with what retirement advisers recommend, according to a survey of 1,000 workers by BlackRock Inc and Boston Research Group. Yet employees on average contribute only 6 to 7 percent of their salary.
One way to boost employee savings, without companies taking on more expense, is to change how they match contributions, said Alan Mason, a BlackRock managing directory.
Participants have a clear idea about what they should be saving. We need to reconcile the match with this, Mason told reporters at a briefing Tuesday.
The company match rate is the single biggest influence on how much employees contribute, according to the survey. Today the average company matches half of the first 6 percent of an employee's 401(k) contributions, said BlackRock, the world's largest money manager.
If a company offered a 37.5 percent match on the first 8 percent of contributions, it would pay the same total amount, but the employee would be more likely to contribute 8 percent as well in order to take full advantage of the match.
The average employee could save an additional $100 per month, according to BlackRock.
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. companies offer a company match. Nineteen percent of companies reduced or suspended their match during the financial crisis, but 80 percent of these companies now say they plan to reinstate it or increase it in 2010, according to research from Hewitt Associates .
Overall, respondents surveyed in March said they were happier with their retirement plans this year than in 2009.
Seventy-six percent said that their balances had increased over the 12 months ending in March 2010, and 55 percent said that the 2008 crisis had made their workplace retirement savings plan more important.
In last year's survey, 79 percent of participants saw their 401(k) balances fall in the year ended March 2009.
(Reporting by Helen Kearney; Editing by Gary Hill)