Optimize Your Retirement Plan Offerings to Attract Better Talent

Optimize Your Retirement Plan Offerings to Attract Better Talent

This article was updated on September 11, 2018.

With 78 million baby boomers on the edge of retirement, according to the Fiscal Times, and the new wave of Generation Z workers — more savvy about their long-term futures than their millennial counterparts — many small businesses face a dilemma: How do you attract the best talent without breaking the bank?

While employee perks, such as more paid time off and medical benefits, help spread the word about your company, research firm Willis Towers Watson points out that great retirement plan offerings are also a big draw. Consider this: Less than a decade ago only 28 percent of those 40 years old or younger said the company's retirement plan was an important factor in accepting a job. Today that number is above 60 percent. Here's a rundown of three top-tier retirement benefits to attract new talent.

The 401(k)

Arguably the most popular retirement plan on the market, this is a great option if you can afford to match employee contributions over the life of service. Both employer and employee can contribute to receive tax-deferred contributions — you can choose to match or not, offer a vesting schedule or even set up emergency access to accrued funds.

In addition, 401(k) plans let employees "catch up" beginning in the year they turn age 50. The big draws here are flexibility, stability and name recognition. If prospective employees know you offer a matched 401(k) plan, it may be a big incentive to not only accept the position but to stay long-term. And as noted by Forbes, 401(k) plans are also attractive to younger employees for more than the investment benefit, since it's possible to borrow up to 50 percent of the account balance in the 401(k) plan to make a down payment on a first home.


If you're looking for something simpler that still falls under the category of solid retirement plan offerings, consider a simplified employee pension (SEP). The big differences here are that only employers are allowed to contribute, money must be immediately vested and no catch-up payments are available.

The benefits? IRS tests and reporting are much less complicated for a SEP than for a 401(k), making SEPs easier to implement and administer. And employees can't argue with a plan entirely funded by their employer, especially if they haven't been actively saving. As noted by Time, one in three Americans have saved nothing for retirement.

Want to attract better employees? Consider optimizing your retirement plan offerings with 401(k)s or SEPs.