Designing a Retirement Plan That Meets Your Employees’ Needs and Goals

Designing a Retirement Plan That Meets Your Employees’ Needs and Goals

At first thought, retirement planning can seem like a complex undertaking for employers, particularly when considering the numerous retirement plan options and the specific needs and goals of their employees. However, it is a key part of any benefits package. Still, you may be wondering why an employer should want to offer a retirement plan in the first place. A retirement plan is an essential benefit that you should understand because it can have a significant impact on employee retention, satisfaction, and financial security. In this article, we’ll explore the key considerations to keep in mind when designing a retirement plan that is tailored to your employees’ unique situations and goals.

Understanding Your Employees’ Retirement Goals

Before delving into different retirement plan options, begin assessing your employees’ retirement goals, as they can vary significantly depending on each individual’s priorities and circumstances.

Assessing Individual Needs and Priorities

You should take into account your employees’ current age, years of service, and expected retirement age. Additionally, you’ll want to identify any potential financial concerns or challenges that your employees may face in retirement, including healthcare costs or living expenses. Conducting surveys or offering employee feedback sessions can be an effective way to gather input on individual employees’ retirement needs and priorities.

For instance, some employees may have a goal of retiring early and traveling the world, while others may want to work part-time during retirement to supplement their income. By understanding each employee’s unique goals and priorities, you can design a retirement plan that meets their needs.  

Considering Different Life Stages and Circumstances

As employees progress through different stages of life, their retirement goals and priorities may shift. For example, younger employees may place a higher priority on flexible retirement savings options, while older employees may be more interested in reliable and stable investment options.

It’s important to consider these shifts in priorities when designing a retirement plan that can align with your employees across different life stages. For instance, a retirement plan that offers a variety of investment options may be more appealing to younger employees who want to take on more risk, while a plan that offers stable, low-risk investment options may be more attractive to employees who are closer to retirement age.

Encouraging Employee Input and Feedback

To ensure that a retirement plan meets employees’ needs, it’s crucial to encourage employee input and feedback throughout the design and implementation process.

You can leverage surveys, feedback sessions, or employee committees to solicit input and ensure that your retirement plan aligns with employee preferences and priorities. By involving your employees in the process, you can also increase employee buy-in and engagement with the retirement plan, leading to greater participation and better retirement outcomes for everyone.

Ultimately, understanding your employees’ retirement goals is the first step in designing a retirement plan that helps them achieve their retirement dreams. By assessing individual needs and priorities, considering different life stages and circumstances, and encouraging employee input and feedback, you can design a retirement plan that works for everyone.

Exploring Retirement Plan Options

Retirement planning is an essential aspect of an employee’s financial well-being. Once you have gained a clear understanding of your employees’ priorities, you can begin to explore different retirement plan options available to you as an employer.

There are several types of retirement plans available in the market, each with its own set of features and benefits. Some of the most common retirement plan options include traditional pension plans, 401(k) and 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and simplified employee pension (SEP) plans. We discuss each of these in more detail below.

Traditional Pension Plans

Traditional pension plans, also known as defined benefit plans, provide employees with a guaranteed retirement income stream based on a formula that incorporates factors such as years of service and salary history. These plans can be an excellent option for employees who are looking for a stable and reliable retirement income. However, traditional pension plans can also be complex and expensive to administer. Employers are responsible for managing the investments and ensuring that there are enough funds to pay out the retirement benefits.

401(k) and 403(b) Plans

401(k) and 403(b) plans are defined contribution plans that allow employees to save for retirement on a tax-deferred basis. These plans can offer flexible investment options and employer matching contributions. However, employees also assume the investment risk associated with these plans. The investment returns are not guaranteed and may fluctuate based on market conditions. Employers are responsible for selecting the investment options and monitoring the plan to ensure that it complies with the regulatory requirements.

Profit-Sharing Plans

Profit-sharing plans provide employees with a share of the profits of the organization on a periodic basis. These plans can incentivize employee retention and provide a source of retirement income. However, they may not provide the same level of stability and predictability as other plan options. Employers are responsible for determining the amount of the profit-sharing contribution and distributing it to the employees.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

ESOPs are retirement plans that allow employees to invest in company stock. These plans can provide employees with a sense of ownership and alignment with the organization’s goals. However, they can also create potential conflict between employee and shareholder interests. Employers are responsible for managing the investments and ensuring that the plan complies with the regulatory requirements.

Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Plans

SEP plans are available to small employers or self-employed individuals and allow for tax-deductible employer contributions to employee retirement savings. These plans can be an excellent option for employers who want to provide retirement benefits to their employees but do not want to bear the administrative burden of more complex plans. However, these plans have lower contribution limits compared to other plan options.

Designing a Comprehensive Retirement Plan

A comprehensive retirement plan should be designed to meet the unique needs and goals of your employees, while also providing them with necessary flexibility and investment options.

One of the key factors to consider when designing a retirement plan is balancing employer contributions with employees’ need for flexibility in managing their retirement savings. You can consider offering matching contributions or other incentives to encourage employee participation and savings. This can help ensure that employees are motivated to save for their retirement and have the necessary financial resources to support their retirement lifestyle.

Balancing Employer Contributions and Employee Flexibility

When designing a retirement plan, you’ll want to find a balance between employer contributions and employee flexibility. While employer contributions can provide a valuable boost to employees’ retirement savings, employees also need the flexibility to manage their retirement funds in a way that aligns with their individual goals and objectives.

You can consider offering retirement plans that allow employees to choose from a range of investment options and provide them with the freedom to make changes to their investment portfolio as needed. This can help employees feel more in control of their retirement savings and better equipped to achieve their financial goals.

Incorporating Investment Options and Risk Management

Investment options and risk management strategies are crucial components of a retirement plan. As an employer, you can offer different investment options, such as target-date funds or index funds, to provide employees with diversified and stable investment options. This can help mitigate the risk of investment losses and provide employees with a more stable retirement income stream.

Additionally, you can work with financial advisors to develop risk management strategies that help your employees manage their retirement savings more effectively. This can include strategies such as diversification, rebalancing, and asset allocation, which can minimize risk and maximize retirement savings potential.

Providing Access to Financial Education and Resources

Providing employees with access to financial education and resources is an essential aspect of retirement planning. Retirement planning seminars, investment advisors, and other resources can help employees make informed decisions about their retirement savings.

You can also consider offering financial wellness programs that provide employees with tools and resources to help them manage their finances more effectively. This can include resources such as budgeting tools, debt management strategies, and retirement planning calculators.

Implementing and Managing the Retirement Plan

Implementing and managing a retirement plan requires ongoing attention and maintenance. This includes selecting a plan administrator, educating employees about the plan, and monitoring and adjusting the plan over time. You should understand the significance of a retirement plan and the role it plays in securing the financial future of your employees.

Selecting a Plan Administrator

Choosing a reliable and reputable plan administrator is crucial to ensuring that the retirement plan is effectively managed and administered. Prior to making a final decision, you should weigh the pros and cons and look into the associated fees, services, and support that the various administrators offer. It is critical to choose an administrator who is experienced and knowledgeable in managing retirement plans.

The plan administrator is responsible for managing the plan’s investments, keeping track of contributions, and ensuring that the plan complies with all legal requirements. You should carefully review the administrator’s credentials and reputation before selecting them to manage their retirement plan.

Communicating the Plan to Employees

Effective communication is key to making sure that employees understand and fully participate in the retirement plan. You can consider communicating the plan through multiple channels, such as email, in-person sessions, or videos, to reach all employees effectively. It is your responsibility as the employer to provide all participants with clear and concise information about the plan, including how to enroll, contribution amounts, investment options, and vesting schedules.

Additionally, you could even offer financial education sessions to help employees understand the importance of saving for retirement and how to make informed investment decisions. This can help employees make the most of their retirement plan and achieve their long-term financial goals. Read on to learn more about managing your employee retirement plan overtime.

Monitoring and Adjusting the Plan Over Time

As employee needs and retirement goals evolve, making it necessary to regularly monitor and adjust the retirement plan to ensure that it remains aligned with employee needs and preferences. You can consider conducting regular plan reviews or offering feedback sessions to identify areas for improvement or adjustment.

You should also review the plan’s investment options periodically to see that they are performing well and meeting the goals of employees. If necessary, you can consider adding or removing investment options to better align with employee desires.

As you can see, implementing and managing a retirement plan requires careful consideration and ongoing attention. You should choose a reliable plan administrator, communicate the plan effectively to employees, and regularly monitor and adjust the plan to ensure that it remains aligned with employee needs and preferences.


Designing a retirement plan that meets your employees’ unique needs and goals can seem time-consuming and challenging. However, by meeting with an experienced advisor and gaining a better understanding of your employees’ priorities, you can offer your employees a valuable benefit that can drive employee retention, engagement, and financial security.


This commentary reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the Fischer Investment Strategies, LLC employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Fischer Investment Strategies, LLC or performance returns of any Fischer Investment Strategies, LLC client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing in this commentary constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Fischer Investment Strategies, LLC manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Financial Advisor at Fischer Investment Strategies | Website | + posts

Ted Fischer is a Fee-Only Certified Financial Planner® & fiduciary, and the founder of Fischer Investment Strategies.

Drawing from more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Ted's expertise includes retirement planning, investment analysis, tax planning, estate planning, and insurance.

Ted has an extensive academic background. He received his Certified Financial Planning (CFP®) designation from UCLA in 2011. He became a Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC®) and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®). Ted has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, with a minor in Finance, from San Diego State University.


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