A growing number of employers are automating features of their 401(k) plans
to encourage participation, according to a survey of 450 large companies by
Nineteen percent of the companies surveyed automatically enrolled employees
in their 401(k) plans, up from 14 percent in 2003. More than a quarter (26 percent)
provided automatic rebalancing, up from 11 percent.
The number of companies that offered or planned to offer contribution escalation
features -- which enable workers to automatically increase their 401(k) contributions
over time--increased to almost 20 percent, up from just 3 percent in 2003.
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the companies said the 401(k) plan was their
primary retirement savings vehicle in 2005, up from 55 percent in 2003, and
more employers are encouraging participation by offering tools that put their
401(k) plans on autopilot, according to Hewitt.
Financial education is another way employers are trying to increase participation.
Nine out of ten (91 percent) companies provided investment education to employees
in 2005, and more than one in three (37 percent) offered outside investment
advisory services, compared with 28 percent in 2003.