Other ideas that employers are entertaining include upping their matches and shortening their vesting schedules. Few are looking to increase their non-elective contributions as KPMG opted to do, Mr. Stinnett said.
Boeing Co., for example, recently announced it would increase its matching contribution for non-union employees in the company's $70 billion 401(k) plan. Beginning Jan. 1, Boeing will match dollar-for-dollar the first 10% of base and incentive pay that non-union employees contribute to their 401(k) accounts. Boeing currently matches 75 cents on the dollar for up to 8% of base pay an employee contributes. The automatic contribution of between 3% to 5% that Boeing now makes, however, will go away.
"We're committed to continuously reviewing opportunities to enhance our benefits that position us as a company where employees want to stay and grow their career," a Boeing spokeswoman said in an email.
In the battle for talent, employers are taking stock of how their retirement benefits hold up against those offered by rivals. Vanguard's Mr. Stinnett, for example, said his team has seen a threefold uptick from 2020 in the number of plan sponsors asking for customized benchmarking of their plans. Vanguard uses benchmarking tools to help sponsors look at aspects of their plan design, such as their vesting schedule and match levels, and compare them against their peers and employers in regions where they're looking to attract employees.
"Through using those benchmarking tools, we can give them a sense of changes they might want to make," Mr. Stinnett said.
No doubt, employers are worried. In a recent survey of 205 retirement plan sponsors, Principal Financial Group found that 81% are concerned about the increased competition for talent and 73% are struggling to find qualified staff to fill open positions.
Nevertheless, employers are in an early "discussion-only" phase and not taking any immediate action on their retirement plans because the focus right now is on open enrollment and getting through the holiday season, said Jeff Cimini, senior vice president of retirement product management at Voya Financial Inc. in Windsor, Conn.
"It's still a little early in terms of specific options or decisions that they make," Mr. Cimini said, referring to plan sponsors.
Mr. Cimini expects that plan sponsors thinking about making changes may start to implement them in the first six months of next year.