Employee Retention, Salary & Benefits

Workers Want Pension Benefits

A new survey finds pension benefits are a major factor for most workers in North America when deciding to accept a job. What’s more, interest in the benefits is widespread, regardless of age.

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In fact, the survey, conducted by Accenture, a leading global professional services firm, finds that Millennials are most interested in pension benefits.

Survey Shows

Nearly four in five (78 percent) of the 2,750 U.S. and Canadian workers and retirees with pension plans surveyed say that the availability of pension benefits is a critical factor in deciding whether or not to accept a job. Further, pensions remain a critical loyalty factor even after employees are hired, with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents saying they stayed with an employer due to pension benefits.

The survey finds that pension benefits are relatively more important to younger workers than older workers, with 82 percent of Millennials (ages 20-37) and 81 percent of Gen Xers (ages 38-52) citing the benefits as a critical factor in accepting a job, compared with 74 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 53-71).

Pension benefits also appear to be more important to public-sector employees, with those workers more likely than ones in the private sector to say they stayed with an employer due to pension benefits (77 percent versus 62 percent) and that pension benefits are a critical factor in accepting a job (80 percent versus 74 percent).

“The pension benefit may now be nearly as important to employees as their health care,” said Owen Davies, who leads Accenture’s global pension practice. “While health benefits have been the benefit most valued by job seekers and employees in recent years, pensions appear to be closing the gap.”

Seeking Assistance

The survey, which focuses on retirement planning, finds that most current and retired employees want more help with retirement planning (82 percent of all respondents) and retirement coaching (84 percent). Younger workers are the most interested, with nearly nine in 10 Millennials citing an interest in retirement planning (88 percent) and retirement coaching (86 percent).

Half (49 percent) of currently active employees say their employer offers retirement education or coaching, and one-third (32 percent) say their employer does not, with the remainder (approximately 20 percent) uncertain if their employer offers such services. But overall, most current and retired workers – 77 percent – say they wanted more knowledge and understanding of their retirement options.

The survey also finds that workers’ confidence in their retirement savings declines with age. Seventy percent of Millennials say they are confident or extremely confident that they will have enough savings to retire at age 65, compared with 62 percent of Gen Xers and 57 percent of Baby Boomers.

Interest in Digital Communication

The survey finds a strong but generally underserved interest in the use of digital communication channels for retirement information. For instance, more than half (54 percent) of respondents say they would like to attend a webinar for retirement education, but only 14 percent have done so. Similarly, half (50 percent) of respondents say they’re interested in using a mobile app to receive retirement info, while only 17 percent have been able to do so, and almost half (46 percent) say they would like to use a digital retirement coach, with only 11 percent served in this way. Interest in digital channels for retirement information is especially strong among Millennials.

Recommendations for Employers

As a result of survey findings, Accenture makes several recommendations for employers:

  • Acknowledge the importance of pension and retirement benefits – Employers should ensure that their HR strategies acknowledge that pension and retirement considerations are critically important to job seekers and current employees and ensure that they address employees’ strong appetites for retirement information and support.
  • Build awareness of benefits – One in five respondents (20 percent) didn’t even know if their employer offered retirement planning or coaching. Given rising concerns among older workers regarding the security of their retirement, it’s important that employers strive harder to provide their employees – and retirees – with the information necessary to help them manage their retirement.
  • Leverage digital channels – Although few workers currently use digital communication channels for information and support on pension benefits and retirement planning, these channels apparently provide a lot of appeal, especially among younger workers. Therefore, employers should bolster their digital offerings to meet the demand from potential recruits and current workers.

“We see growing opportunities for employers to address unmet demands for digital channels and strong appetites among employees for more information and support regarding pensions and retirement planning,” said Davies. “How pension benefits are shaped and how they are communicated to employees is very important to an organization’s effectiveness, stability, and outlook. Our survey findings point to several areas that employers should focus on to attract and retain their employees.”