Small Biz Employers Still Onboard with 401(k)s

April 17, 2009 ( - A faltering economy has not caused small business owners in a recent survey to lose faith with the importance of workplace retirement plans.

A SunTrust Banks news release about its poll said despite generally acknowledging retirement plans’ importance, almost 40% of responding employers do not offer one.

They cited as potential roadblocks:

  • affordability (90%);
  • ease of use once the program is implemented (89%);
  • ease of setting up a program (87%);
  • fee transparency (87%); and
  • quality and range of investment alternatives available (87%).

Eighty-five percent of business owners believe that a retirement plan is an important benefit to their employees, just behind health care coverage. A majority of small business owners (61%) agree that it is an employer’s responsibility to offer retirement benefits, and 75% say it helps in their efforts to attract and retain high-quality employees.

401(k) Advantages

According to the announcement, the study also found:

  • Small business owners recognize the importance and desirability of 401(k) retirement plans in particular, as they overwhelmingly believe that having a 401(k) allows employees to better manage their retirement plans (86%).
  • Eight in ten say having a 401(k) plan to participate in for their own retirement savings would give them greater peace of mind. Almost nine in 10 owners of small businesses have a personal retirement plan, with 401(k) being the most popular of the plans.
  • The current economy is posing new challenges to small businesses’ personal and company retirement planning: 81% of owners agree that the current economic climate has changed the way they think about their own retirement, with 41% of them citing that it has made planning for retirement more important.

“The survey reinforced to us that in this economy, retirement plans are essential to the health of businesses, families and communities,” said Brenda Seliga, senior vice president and head of Employee Benefit Solutions at SunTrust, in the news release. “While we certainly understand the apprehension that exists as part of the current economic climate, we find it unfortunate that so many small businesses feel unable to offer retirement plans that can help their employees build solid futures.”

The online survey, conducted independently for SunTrust in February 2009, asked 1,000 U.S. small business owners to identify the biggest challenges they face regarding retirement plans for employees and for themselves.