The dream of a secure retirement seems to be fading away for millions of workers as they face the tremendous challenge to accumulate enough savings for an adequate retirement. Americans' confidence in their ability to attain a secure retirement has reached a new low, according to the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey produced by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
The 2011 EBRI survey indicated that the percentage of workers with “no confidence” in having enough money for a comfortable retirement reached 27%, the highest level measured in the 21 years of the survey. At the same time, the percentage of “very confident” workers declined to the previous low of 13% measured after the market declines in 2008 and early 2009. What is more surprising than the loss of confidence is that these workers are not making any adjustments to their savings and spending to get themselves back on track. Instead, they are modifying their expectations about how they will transition from work to retirement, by retiring later and working during retirement.
Unfortunately, as more workers lose confidence and become more complacent about taking responsibility for their retirement savings, defined contribution plans are being blamed for failing to provide an adequate retirement. We do not believe that defined contribution plans are the problem. Nonetheless, plan sponsors can do much to ensure retirement is a pleasant destination for their employees. Plan sponsors need to begin focusing on providing employees a better retirement planning experience. Effective sponsors move beyond offering only a competitive employee benefit and towards providing their employees with a secure retirement.
The following are some relevant strategies that can help defined contribution retirement plans jump-start employee confidence and drive successful participant outcomes.