Participant Survey

The PLANSPONSOR Participant Survey examines the attitudes and behaviors of American workers participating—or not—in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. It gathers data about savings rates, employer expectations and confidence levels, among other measures.


Looking In, Looking Out

Understanding participant perspectives.

Architects have a somewhat challenging profession. Central to their work is the ability to understand a client’s needs and to design a space that delivers on those needs while also conforming to the rules and requirements of the necessary building codes. Defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors are likely familiar with this delicate balance, as they are tasked with designing a retirement plan that serves as the foundation on which participants can build their retirement dreams. Yet, in both scenarios, a simple question remains once the design is complete: Does it meet expectations?
The 2016 PLANSPONSOR Participant Survey can help sponsors answer this question. The good news is that participant needs have not changed measurably over the past three years, since this survey was launched, and many trends remain remarkably the same. The bad news, though, is that many participants are still struggling to secure a comfortable retirement.
Overall, the percentage of respondents who are confident they will meet their retirement goals fell for the third straight year, to 29.8%. This decline overshadows the more positive feelings many participants have toward their employer’s retirement plans: 80.5% of survey respondents at least “somewhat agree” that their defined contribution plan has “done an excellent job of helping them save for retirement.”
There is more work to be done: 39.1% of participants “agree” and another 30.1% “somewhat agree” they would like their employer to offer more financial education on the job, and almost half report having either moderate (35.9%) or severe (15.0%) financial stress. The pages that follow explore the impact of various drivers on employee actions and outcomes, and can help assist sponsors that may decide their plan, in places, needs some redrafting.