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About Workplace Benefits Report

Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Workplace Benefits Report is an annual study focused on the role financial benefit plans play in employers' talent management strategies — and in the overall financial wellness of their employees. This year, the scope of the study was expanded to examine both employer and employee perspectives on the quality of benefits offered and the usefulness of financial advice and education provided.

Understanding the ever-evolving retirement landscape, as well as how changing demographics and priorities affect employers and employees, continues to be a top priority for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. By monitoring and keeping abreast of these key indicators and opinions, we can more confidently empower plan sponsors to stay ahead of the curve while helping meet the varied needs of their plan participants.

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2012 Workplace Benefits Report Review

Make more of your benefit plans. For your company and your employees.

This year's insights bring greater understanding of employer motivators when selecting workplace benefits, and employee motivators for taking advantage of them. For both groups, financial benefits are proving to be more important than ever, which leads to an interesting dynamic that provides potential advantages for all.

  • Today, employers are feeling a greater sense of responsibility for their workforce, specifically in helping them prepare for retirement.
  • In the current competitive market, employee loyalty is essential for companies to retain their talent.
  • Through financial benefits, employers are given an opportunity to foster that loyalty and provide employees guidance for their transition into retirement.

In our opinion, this is how benefits should be viewed in this day and age — as investments a company makes to optimize employee performance, ability and loyalty; provide opportunities for employees to succeed financially; and ultimately, gain a sustainable competitive advantage for the company.

For more information about how we can help your company and its employees with workplace benefits, contact your Bank of America Merrill Lynch representative or call 1.877.902.8730.

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Highlights of key findings


Boston Research Group interviewed a national sample of 1,000 401(k) employers and 1,000 employees from January 2012 through March 2012 on behalf of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. To qualify for the survey, employers currently offer their employees an active 401(k) plan and the final sample was weighted to representative proportions based on plan size as follows: 800 small companies (< $5M in 401(k) plan assets); 100 mid-sized companies ($5M to < $100M in 401(k) plan assets); 100 large companies ($100M + in 401(k) plan assets). Similarly, employees had to be enrolled in a 401(k) plan and the final sample was weighted to representative proportions based on small companies (employer has < 100 employees); core companies (employer has 100 to < 1,000 employees); mega companies (employer has 1,000 + employees).

The State of Workplace Benefits in 2012

Workplace benefits integral to company performance and vital to employees' lifelong financial security

I'm pleased to share with you the highlights and observations of this year's Workplace Benefits Report. Once again, the results will be of great value to employers who use these insights to build better and more strategic benefits programs. In turn, employees will ultimately benefit as recipients of improved offerings. As a top provider of workplace benefits committed to both markets, Bank of America Merrill Lynch continues to view this study as an opportunity to inform and better serve all of our clients.

The overriding finding in 2012 was that financial benefit plans continue to play a critical role in effectively attracting and retaining talented employees for companies of all sizes. This coincides with a rapidly shifting demographic and economic landscape that makes workplace benefits more important than ever for employees as they prepare for long-term financial wellness and retirement readiness.

Organizations that make the effort to understand and act on these parallel trends are most apt to thrive in the global marketplace.

Kevin Crain

Head of Institutional Retirement & Benefit Services