Using 401(k) Plans to Sell Potential Candidates


More architecture and engineering firms are offering 401(k) plans as part of the standard benefits package, says a new survey from Natick, Mass.-based ZweigWhite.

Ninety-one percent of firms surveyed for ZweigWhite's 2005 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey have a 401(k) plan, up from a low of 79% in the 1988 survey. “However, there are still many ways for HR Managers to use this benefit to sell potential candidates on joining their firm,” says Saman Chaudry, a principal with the consulting firm who specializes in staffing solutions consulting services.

Chaudry offers some advice to HR Managers who want to use 401(k) plans as a recruiting and retention tactic:

  • Leverage the benefits of your program. Most firms offer a matching contribution of 1.5% to 6%. Some firms do better, with a few offering 20% or more of base salary above the standard marching contribution. If your firm does better than the standard make sure to highlight this point during the interview process with potential candidates as an additional way to distinguish your firm.


  • Promote retirement plans internally. Firms that are successful with recruiting and retaining staff make promises of creating millionaires through their retirement plans. Even with a “based on firm performance” caveat, firms should actively promote their 401(k) plans not only to potential candidates, but to current employees as well. It's a great idea to remind current staff of your benefits and how they compare (and out do) the competition’s.


  • Factor the 401(k) plan into the offer. Make a compelling offer by investigating what the candidate's current company match is and when the plan contributions and employee match actually “vest.” When comparing total compensation packages, a 401(k) plan can push a firm’s offer over the edge.

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