Workers Would Trade Pay for Retirement Security

Nearly half (44%) of U.S. workers are worried about reductions in their retirement benefits over the next two years, according to a survey by Towers Watson. 

In addition, 55% of respondents said they are willing to pay a higher amount from each paycheck to ensure they have a guaranteed retirement. That compares to 46% two years ago. Half of respondents said they would trade a portion of their pay to ensure they have access to healthcare benefits if they retire before they are eligible for Medicare benefits, versus 40% in 2009.

More than half (53%) of those polled indicated they would be willing to trade a portion of their pay in return for more generous benefits.

This growing interest in retirement security is not limited to older workers; the survey found that some of the most dramatic changes in attitudes toward risk, rewards and security trade-offs have been among younger employees and those with a defined benefit (DB) plan. Among DB plan participants younger than 40, the number willing to pay for a guaranteed retirement benefit jumped by nearly 70%, from 39% in 2009 to 66% in 2011.

Younger DB plan participants (63%) are particularly concerned about a reduction in retirement benefits within the next two years. Employees are even more concerned about having to shoulder more financial responsibility for their healthcare costs. Nearly three in four employees (73%) are concerned about higher out-of-pocket health costs and co-pays over the next two years, compared with two-thirds (67%) in 2007.

Other survey findings include:

•  Rising healthcare costs is the most important reason employees are concerned about retirement security, cited by 64% of respondents. More than half (56%) cited concerns over Social Security or Medicare benefits, and higher prices for necessities.

•  Older employees, women, lower-paid workers and those with health issues are most willing to relinquish control over their retirement investments in exchange for more stability in their retirement benefits over the long term.

The Towers Watson Retirement Attitudes Survey was conducted in June and July 2011, and includes responses from 9,218 full-time U.S. employees at non-government organizations with 1,000 or more employees. For more information, visit