Salary, job flexibility much more important than pension plan to employees

Very few would leave job for better pension: Survey

Canadians are not placing a high priority on employer pension plans when evaluating job opportunities, according to a report from the BMO Retirement Institute.

Only seven per cent consider a good retirement pension to be the most important factor, compared to salary (47 per cent) and flexible work arrangements (22 per cent), found Perfecting the workplace pension: the quest continues.

Only nine per cent of the 1,008 respondents to the BMO survey stated it is very likely they would leave their current position for another one if the new employer offered a better workplace pension or savings plan.

More than one-half (51 per cent) could not identify the must-have features they would include if given the opportunity to design their own workplace pension plan.

The report also found one-half of Canadian workers have already had five or more employers since they started working; 20 per cent expect to work for 10 or more employers over their careers.

"The employer pension used to be a lot simpler because, in the past, Canadians would generally stay with one employer throughout their working career," said Tina Di Vito, head of the BMO Retirement Institute. "Now, because employees switch jobs so often, many have to deal with multiple pension plans during their career. Additionally, with the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, the responsibility for properly managing a workplace pension now lies with the employee rather than the employer."

If managed correctly, a defined contribution (DC) pension plan can be a valuable tool that can help see a person through retirement. However, the biggest challenge is most individuals do not have the time or investment knowledge to take an active role in managing their own plan, said Di Vito. In these cases, it is best to take advantage of automatic default features and seek the help of a financial professional who can best determine the most appropriate investments for the plan.

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