E mployers can help workers grow their retirement savings through a few simple strategies: introducing automatic enrollment in the company’s 401(k) plan, simplifying plan choices and better communicating the benefits. A May study by Hewitt Associates ( www.hewitt.com ) found that, in companies that had instituted automatic enrollment, the overall employee participation rate rose 14 percentage points.
Clearly, however, more work needs to be done. Although in 2005 the average 401(k) plan balance grew more than 10%, one-third of employees still did not participate in the plan—and one in five didn’t contribute enough to obtain the full company match. Those that contributed only nominal amounts, not surprisingly, were the younger, lower-tenured and lower-salaried employees.