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Retirement Trends: What You Need To Know in 2024

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  • Lectura de 6 minutos
  • Last Updated: 01/18/2024

Una empleada analiza una inversión socialmente responsable con sus ahorros para la jubilación

Table of Contents

Retirement trends reflect a shift in the U.S. workforce. Not only are people living longer, which carries implications for outliving savings and long-term affordable health care, but they're doing it in a faster-paced, more complex, demanding, and stressful world. Employers are responding by shaping company retirement plans to address the comprehensive retirement needs of every employee, looking strategically at retirement offerings as a part of overall financial wellness, and using recent developments and trends in 401(k) plan design to offer engaging incentives.

8 Emerging Retirement Plan Industry Trends

Many factors can influence emerging trends in the retirement industry. Whether encouraging workers to save more for retirement or boosting employees' overall financial wellness, companies are trying to do more with their retirement plans.

Here are 8 emerging trends reflecting the future of retirement to keep an eye on in 2024.

1. Improved Service, Auto-Enrollment, and Self-Service Tools

Employers are going beyond picking retirement plans based on fees. They're also considering the type of service available to support 401(k) plans and administration. This could include support for plan participants, digital investment choice assistance via robo-advisors, and self-service tools that improve access to plan information. There's also a trend of more companies turning to auto-enrolling their employees to ensure that they're taking advantage of the company 401(k) plan.

2. Promoting the Benefits of HSAs

Healthcare premiums have been rising for years, and individuals must prepare for medical costs to increase as they age. This is why part of sound retirement planning includes accounting for health-related expenses. Health savings accounts (HSAs) have grown in popularity to help account holders and their families save money for present healthcare needs and health costs after retirement. Consider the fact that 29% of retirees said that a health problem was a factor in their decision to retire, according to findings from the Federal Reserve. Health problems, caring for family, and lack of work collectively contributed to the timing of retirement for 45% of retirees. For employers contending with rising healthcare costs, an HSA paired with a high-deductible health plan could be a cost-effective option to help employees stretch their medical dollars.

Those who stay healthy or use non-HSA funds to pay out-of-pocket medical costs can allow savings to build up in their accounts on a tax-deferred basis. Once the account owner reaches age 65, distributions can be taken for any reason without a tax penalty. Of course, distributions other than for qualified medical expenses are taxable to the same extent as those from an IRA funded with fully deductible contributions.

3. Enhanced Financial Education for Participants

A sizable percentage of Americans are not building up sufficient assets needed to maintain their standard of living in retirement, and the problem is only getting worse for younger generations. The Federal Reserve found that about 1/4 of non-retired adults in the U.S. do not have any retirement savings, and the median total of retirement assets for those who do is less than $100,000. Given these stark statistics, you may want to consider the value of packaging in financial education resources when offering a retirement plan to employees. Financial counseling was even cited as an additional benefit HR leaders planned to offer within the next 12 months, according to the 2023 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey. Providing educational resources and access to financial advice is a great way to help employees assess their retirement readiness and save appropriately.

4. Offering Retirement Plans as a Part of Overall Financial Wellness Benefits

Financial well-being is a complex topic, with increasing living expenses, debt, and healthcare costs. Add to that the rise in inflation and overall uncertainty about where the economy is headed, and you may have employees more stressed about money than ever before. The Federal Reserve reported that financial well-being declined, and 35% of those surveyed said they were worse off than the previous year. In comparison, only 31% of non-retirees thought their retirement plan was on track — down 9% from the previous year.

As an employer, you may even see firsthand the impact that stress from financial issues can have on your employees. It could even lead to turnover, absenteeism, and loss of productivity. A lack of financial knowledge can hold anyone back. Left with few reliable resources like where to find information and get financial questions answered, your employees will likely continue to struggle.

Those employers who offer a retirement plan and include it as one part of a total financial wellness benefit can help their employees feel more financially confident and prepared for the future, combat stresses around money matters, and feel more hopeful for the future.

Employers can implement a financial wellness program for employees to educate them, help them manage their money, and reduce their financial burdens. Financial wellness programs may include personal financial coaching on specific topics, online education, budgeting tools, credit resources, and guidance on the best places to start investing based on age and goals.

5. Stronger Auto-Portability for 401(k) Plans

Auto-portability, the 401(k) plan default feature that automatically transfers small-balance retirement savings when participants change jobs, has become increasingly popular.

As one of the more exciting emerging retirement plan industry trends, auto-portability aims to address a common source of 401(k) fund leakage by providing a seamless, automated plan-to-plan retirement savings transfer when a person changes jobs. A 401(k) is supposed to help an employee save for retirement and often represents a significant portion of their assets. That nest egg is vulnerable to leakage when a person takes out a loan and does not pay it back on time, takes hardship withdrawals, or does not roll their 401(k) to an IRA retirement savings plan when they leave one company and go to another.

6. Socially Responsible Investing

Investors increasingly demand that their retirement savings not only provide a healthy return but also do so through investments in socially responsible or ethical companies. Socially responsible investing entails choosing investments based on financial return and social/environmental responsibility — or weeding out companies viewed as socially or environmentally irresponsible. Many mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) now focus on holding only socially responsible investments.

This may be a 401(k) plan trend that your Millennial and Gen Z employees appreciate, as many individuals in these generational groups are concerned with how their investing impacts companies' profits and are seeking ways to align their values with their investment decisions.

7. Older Americans Working Longer Means Fewer "Traditional" Retirements

The average retirement age is increasing, meaning older Americans are working longer. This can be due to various factors: financial need, finding fulfillment in their work that they don't want to give up, the need to keep health insurance benefits, or the desire to continue earning income to pad their retirement savings. As a result, many expect to retire later than ever.

Fears of not having enough savings and being unable to rely on Social Security benefits make it increasingly common to find older workers easing into retirement by shifting into other forms of part-time work, such as consulting or a less time-intensive job. For employers and younger workers, the long-term effects may reverberate through the economy through pressure for higher pay, labor shortages, and (further down the road) Social Security funding problems.

Employers taking note of this retirement plan trend are seeing the benefit of offering more comprehensive financial wellness benefits, educational programs, and savings opportunities to help employees make informed decisions and meet their goals.

8. Continued Uncertainty About the Future of Social Security Benefits

One of the most questioned developments in retirement is the availability of Social Security benefits, for which the trust fund’s depletion is expected in 2033. Uncertain as to whether they can rely on federal benefit programs by the time they retire, employers and workers in the U.S. continue to keep a close eye on the state of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASI and DI) Trust Funds. It's all the more reason employers offer a retirement plan and encourage employees of all ages to participate.

Retirement Laws and Regulatory Changes Impacting Retirement Plans in 2024

Retirement laws offer new and expanded opportunities for plan participants and plan sponsors. Some of the notable laws and regulations impacting the retirement industry include:


The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, enacted in late 2019, increased tax credits significantly for employers who established workplace retirement plans for employees. A business that starts a new retirement plan may qualify for up to a $5,000 credit for three years and an additional credit of $500 for including an auto-enrollment feature. These credits can lower your business tax liability and provide funds to cover the cost of plan administration. The $500 credit is also available to those who convert their plans to auto-enrollment.

The SECURE Act 2.0 became law three years later, in late December 2022. One of its provisions includes the employer contribution credit, which is up to $1,000 per year per employee with employer contributions for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The additional employer contribution tax credit is reduced for employers with 51-100 employees.

A SECURE Act 2.0 provision further down the road, but one that employers should be thinking about now, stipulates that starting on Jan. 1, 2025, long-term part-time employees with two years of service (along with 500 hours of work in each year and reaching age 21) must be allowed to take part in their employer's workplace retirement plan. The prior SECURE Act required 3 years of service for long-term part-time employees to be eligible.

In 2024 and beyond, expect regulatory guidance on key provisions of SECURE 2.0, notably the need for clarity on student loan matching contributions and scrutiny on the infrastructure needed to support several distribution types that the law permits, particularly emergency distributions and distributions to victims of domestic violence.

Pooled Employer Plans

Another provision of the SECURE Act enables multiple businesses of any size to pool assets into a plan professionally administered by a third party. These Pooled Employer Plans (PEP) simplify administration and enrollment and help reduce fiduciary liability for participating employers. That's primarily because most administration tasks are handled by a pooled plan provider, which also helps reduce the fiduciary risks for the employer.

State-Mandated Retirement Programs

At the state level, 16 states have enacted laws for workplace retirement plans, with 3 – Maine, New York, and New Mexico – expected in 2024 to join the 7 that have already implemented their programs:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Virginia

As of October 2023, seven additional states have proposed workplace retirement savings programs legislation.

While some state retirement savings programs may be "mandatory," employers can adopt a qualified retirement plan that exempts them from participating in the state program.

Stay Current on Retirement Trends With Paychex

Many changes, trends, and possibilities surround the retirement landscape for employers and workers at every stage of a career life cycle. Staying on top of retirement industry trends and ensuring employees are confident about their finances is possible with Paychex, which offers 401(k) and retirement services customized to employers' needs while also providing a high level of expertise and service.


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* Este contenido es solo para fines educativos, no tiene por objeto proporcionar asesoría jurídica específica y no debe utilizarse en sustitución de la asesoría jurídica de un abogado u otro profesional calificado. Es posible que la información no refleje los cambios más recientes en la legislación, la cual podrá modificarse sin previo aviso y no se garantiza que esté completa, correcta o actualizada.

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