Pension benefits major factor in accepting a job: survey

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of North American employees and retirees with pension plans said the availability of those benefits was a major factor in deciding whether to accept a job, according to a new survey by Accenture.

Its survey, which polled nearly 3,000 Canadian and U.S. workers, also found that pensions remained a loyalty factor after they joined an organization, with 72 per cent of respondents saying they stayed with an employer due to their pension benefits.

Read: Canada facing $13.4-trillion retirement savings deficit by 2050

Pension benefits are relatively more important to younger employees than older workers, with 82 per cent of millennials and 81 per cent of generation Xers citing them as a critical factor in accepting a job. That compares to 74 per cent of baby boomers.

The survey also found pension benefits are particularly important to public sector employees, with 77 per cent saying they stayed with an employer as a result of them. The finding compares to 62 per cent for the private sector. As well, 80 per cent of public sector employees cited the pension as a critical factor in accepting a job, a number that compared to 74 per cent in the private sector.

“The pension benefit may now be nearly as important to employees as their health care,” said Owen Davies, leaders for the global pension practice at Accenture. “While health benefits have been the benefit most valued by job seekers and employees in recent years, pensions appear to be closing the gap.”

According to the survey, retirement confidence declines with age. About 70 per cent of millennials said they’re confident or extremely confident that they’ll have enough savings to retire at age 65, compared to 62 per cent of  gen-Xers and 57 per cent of baby boomers.

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The majority (82 per cent) of survey respondents said they want more help with retirement planning. About half (49 per cent) of respondents who are active employees said their employer offers retirement education or coaching, while 32 per cent said their employer doesn’t provide anything along those lines. One in five respondents are uncertain whether their employer offers such services. Overall, 77 per cent of all respondents want more knowledge and understanding of their retirement options.

When it comes to how they receive retirement information, 54 per cent of respondents said they’d like to attend a webinar, but only 14 per cent have done so. Half of respondents said they’d like to use a mobile app to receive the information, while only 17 per cent have done so. And 46 per cent said they’d like to use a digital retirement coach, although only 11 per cent have done so.

“We see growing opportunities for employers to address unmet demands for digital channels and strong appetites among employees for more information and support regarding pensions and retirement planning,” said Davies. “How pension benefits are shaped and how they are communicated to employees is very important to an organization’s effectiveness, stability and outlook. Our survey findings point to several areas that employers should focus on to attract and retain their employees.”

Read: 80% of Canadians want employer-provided financial education: survey