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When it comes to being consumers, Americans are in a class of their own. When it comes to saving, well, let’s just say they aren’t self-starters. In 2004, just 70.3% of eligible employees participated in 401(k) plans, according to Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting company in Illinois. The results were even worse for younger workers, with just 46% under the age of 30 participating in defined contribution plans.

With fewer and fewer traditional defined benefit pension plans out there and the guaranteed cushion of Social Security looking shaky, 401(k) savings are likely to become an increasingly important source of workers’ retirement income in the years to come. So how can companies–88% of which are even willing to kick in some matching funds–get workers to participate? The answer for a growing number of plan sponsors is to do it for them.

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