Findings Report

Retirement

When it comes to employee retirement benefits, employers of all sizes are constantly looking for ways to improve their offering, provide new resources, and engage with participants. For a majority of U.S. workers, an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan will be the single largest source of personal retirement savings. In this report, we examine all the ways companies are strategically supporting the financial futures of their employees through retirement benefits.
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Retirement

Plan Options

401(k) employee retirement plans are a staple of benefits packages for most companies, especially for large and medium size businesses. Most plans offer a Roth post-tax option but not an additional post-tax option. 

View Chart:
401(k) by Company Size
Roth
Non-Roth

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Eligibility

Most companies offer immediate eligibility for new hires, but some companies do not extend eligibility to part-time workers. Most companies that do include part-time workers offer them the same eligibility provisions as full-time workers. 

View Chart:
Eligibility Requirement
Part-Time
Full-Time vs. Part-Time

Participation

Most companies saw an increase in retirement plan participation from the majority of their workforce between 2018-2021. Participation did not decrease during the pandemic.

View Chart:
Rate Over Time
Rate During Pandemic
Loans During Pandemic

Auto Enrollment

There has been a gradual increase among companies offering auto enrollment for retirement plans between 2018 to 2021 and an even more prominent increase in companies that automatically increase the election rate annually (usually up to 3%). 

View Chart:
Overall Trend
Tech vs. Non-Tech
Election Rates
Rate Increases
Rate Increase Cap

Matching & Vesting

Based on our survey responses, HR professionals indicate that new hire candidates factor in a company’s 401k plan, and employer matching contributions in particular, as an important factor in deciding whether to accept a job offer. While most companies surveyed still reported having no match program, we see the number of plans offering a match continue to increase year over year. Some companies eliminated or lowered employer contribution in response to the pandemic. 

View Chart:
Employer Contribution
Timing By Headcount
Match Ceiling & Effective Rate
Plan vs. Match Eligibility
Pandemic Response

In today’s highly competitive job market, an overwhelming majority of companies offer an immediate vesting schedule to attract talent.

ESG Funds

Adding ESG funds to an investment lineup is growing in popularity as companies increase their focus on social responsibility and DEI in their own workplace as well as their ecosystem of vendors and partners. While most companies do not have ESG funds, we are seeing growth in the companies that do and expect that number to increase now that the Biden Administration has stated that it will not enforce rules that make it harder to offer ESG funds in 401(k) plans.

View Chart:
By Company Size
Recency

Plan Administration

Companies continue to fine-tune their retirement programs, and most companies work with a plan advisor and pay for administration and advisory expenses out of pocket. Employee education and adding or increasing employer match are the top improvements companies are planning to make.

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Advisors
Expenses
Communication
Program Changes

Fiduciary & Governance

Overall, most companies do not have an active 401(k) committee. However, most larger companies do have an active committee. These committees consist mostly of Finance and HR leaders.

View Chart:
Committee by Company Size
Committee Representation

Methodology

Insights from this report represent data collected from Sequoia’s 2022 Dataforest DEI survey, and anonymized information and trends from our database. Dataforest is refreshed periodically with updates from new survey submissions.

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