Small-Business Employees Want Retirement Plans

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Owners of small businesses should offer a retirement plan if they want to recruit and retain good employees, according to a new poll.

Fidelity Investments polled 338 workers at businesses with between five and 100 employees. Nearly half, 49 percent, said they would not move to a company that did not offer a retirement plan, and 68 percent said a retirement plan is a “critical” or “very important” tool to attract and retain workers.


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By contrast, Fidelity also polled 992 businesses of the same size, and only 36 percent of employers viewed a retirement plan as “critical” or “very important” to staff retention or recruiting new talent.

Edmund F. Murphy III, executive vice president of the Boston-based Fidelity Employer Services Company, said in a statement that small business owners “simply can't afford not to offer a retirement plan.” He added, “Unfortunately, many owners without a retirement plan have a misperception that offering one is too expensive, yet we know it's generally one of the lowest operating costs and offers some of the biggest benefits."

The average monthly cost reported for administering a plan was just over 1 percent of monthly operating expenses. However, the top reasons why small businesses report not having a plan is because they are too expensive (23 percent) or the company is not profitable enough yet (23 percent) to offer one, Fidelity said.

The days of lifetime pensions and medical care are gone, and now most of the retirement-planning burden falls on the employees. Some companies get aggressive about helping their workers.

Fidelity Investments has launched a pilot program that automatically enrolls workers 50 and older to contribute as much as $20,500 annually of their pre-tax paychecks to 401(k) retirement savings plans. Employees can opt out, but studies show that most don't, the Chicago Tribune reported. Fifty employers –from big to small, for-profit to nonprofit, in a variety of industries –are trying it out.

Brian O'Rourke, a principal at O'Rourke & Co. Inc., a Boston-based financial planning firm, told Investment News that a retirement plan is a great tool to retain talent.

“Don't look at it as a cost,” he advises employers. “Whatever you'll pay for a matching contribution is cheap compared to going out to the marketplace and trying to replace that good employee.”

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