Our latest participant survey chronicles the attitudes, resilience and adjustments of American workers and retirees through these latest turbulent times of COVID tragedy, climate change, political anxiety and economic upheaval. What we uncovered about their attitudes and behaviors toward retirement savings and retirement income offers some telling insights about what participants are doing well and where they fall short and what they want from their DC plans in the future.

Key Findings


Covid Effect on Retirement Savings

The global COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a near standstill, bringing distinctly difficult challenges to many workers and their economic wellbeing. The time is now for sponsors who are considering offering a financial wellness program.


The Participant Perspective Counts in Responsible Investing

Is It Important that the Investment Options in Your Plan Adhere to Your Core Ethical Values?


We Asked Retirees...

If You Could Prepare for Retirement All Over Again, What Would You Do Differently?


Plan Participants Say Control and Flexibility Critical When Thinking About a Retirement Income Solution

Would you rather...


Who Do Participants Talk To?


We Have Identified Three Distinct Investor Personas

Whos' Who Among Participants?

We know from our research that plan participants have varying degrees of investment sophistication, confidence and engagement.

If plan sponsors and providers approach participants by targeting the strengths and weaknesses of their personas, it may be possible to increase the knowledge of each group—and ultimately the retirement savings for all.


Capable, Eager and Conservative: Profiles in Retirement Confidence (or Not)

Source: AB, Inside the Minds of Plan Participants, 2021

About AB’s Defined Contribution Research

The Defined Contribution (DC) team at AllianceBernstein (AB) has conducted annual surveys of employees since 2005 and biennial surveys of plan sponsors since 2006. These snapshots help us understand the attitudes and behaviors of workers toward retirement saving, the changing state of DC plans, and the concerns, perspectives and strategies of plan sponsors.

We want to share this research with plan sponsors. We believe it will help them understand how to lead participants to better savings outcomes and more comfortable, confident retirements. We conducted our 14th annual web-based plan-participant survey in June 2021. It was based on a national sample of 1,200 employees. Of these, 1,015 were full-time workers participating in a workplace retirement savings plan at their current employer and 185 were retirees who had previously worked full time and participated in a workplace savings plan.

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