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A Business Case for Small Biz Retirement Plans

Updated: Apr 22

Unlocking talent and fostering financial wellness will pay future dividends

In the competitive landscape of talent acquisition and retention, small business owners face a unique challenge – only one-third of them currently offer retirement plans to their employees. This statistic, revealed by Fidelity Investment's 2023 Small Business Retirement Index, not only highlights a missed opportunity for businesses but also underscores the potential for attracting top-tier candidates in a tight labor market.

The Current Landscape

Fidelity's study found that the majority of small business owners – around 67% – do not provide retirement plans for their employees. Among the key reasons cited for this gap, affordability emerged as a significant concern. However, with only 37% of business owners stating that they couldn't afford retirement plans, there is room for exploration into alternative strategies that align with budgetary constraints.

In a labor market where the war for talent rages on, the study also revealed that 37% of small business owners identified employee recruiting and retention as a top concern. This concern is not only valid but presents a unique opportunity for small business owners to differentiate themselves and attract top notch candidates.

The Role of Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits extend beyond financial security for employees – they can be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent. Fidelity's report emphasized the competitive advantage small business owners can gain through offering retirement plans, with a substantial 73% acknowledging their inability to compete with large corporations. A staggering 82% of these owners specifically pointed to benefits packages as an area where they struggle to match up.

Small businesses form the backbone of the American workforce, employing as much as half of all workers. Recognizing the dual role of retirement benefits as both a recruitment tool and a gesture of employee support, many small business owners who do offer retirement plans (34% of them) do so for reasons beyond the bottom line. The survey found that 63% believe it's the right thing to do, 53% consider it an expectation from their employees, and 51% see it as a means to attract top talent. Challenges and Opportunities While the Fidelity study highlighted affordability concerns, it also uncovered other obstacles preventing small business owners from embracing retirement plans. Approximately 21% of owners reported a lack of knowledge on how to set up retirement plans, and 22% cited being too busy to focus on the process. These challenges, while real, present opportunities for business owners to explore simplified and streamlined solutions that cater to their unique needs.

The decision to offer retirement benefits is not just a financial one; it is an investment in the long-term success and sustainability of a business. Small business owners stand at a crucial juncture where they can leverage retirement plans to not only address the financial well-being of their employees but also gain a competitive edge in talent acquisition and retention.

As the small business landscape evolves, taking proactive steps to bridge the retirement plan gap can set the stage for attracting top talent, fostering employee loyalty, and ultimately building a thriving and resilient workforce. Small business owners who navigate this path stand to gain not only a committed and motivated team but also a reputation as employers who prioritize the well-being of their most valuable asset – their people.

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