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January 25, 2005
Employers Take Aim at Raising 401(k) Participation

Employers are boosting their efforts to educate and make it easier for employees to participate in their 401(k) plans in 2005, according to a survey of 200 large employers by Hewitt Associates.

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Almost 90 percent of employers reported that they plan to focus on making sure their employees understand how their 401(k) plan works, the value of it, and how to access it.

They also plan to take steps to promote personal responsibility for retirement planning and initiate actions designed to increase 401(k) plan participation. Seven out of 10 employers (70 percent) report they will focus on offering additional support to employees to manage the diversification of their 401(k) plan.

Almost half of companies (47 percent) say they are also likely to automate certain features in their 401(k) plan as a way to increase participation and quality of participation. Key areas of focus for those companies include automatic enrollment, automatic contribution rate increase features, and automatic rebalancing.

"Many employers are acknowledging that regardless of their efforts to educate workers on the importance of saving for retirement, there will always be some who are just not going to actively participate on their own," says Lori Lucas of Hewitt Associates. "Automating the 401(k) plan is a way that enables such employees to better maximize the value of their plan without requiring a lot of time or effort on the part of the employee."

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