What Retirement Plan Should You Offer Employees?

Date: April 08, 2014

Four options for four different small business owners.

For small business owners looking to lure talent, retirement plans are
becoming increasingly attractive bait.

because Americans could be facing a retirement crisis. According to a 2013
report from the National Institute on Retirement Security, workers are
$6.8 to $14 trillion short of what they need to live comfortably in retirement

offer an overview of retirement plan options and what kind of small business
owners should consider them, NFIB tapped Mel Piasek, the owner of Elite Pension
Consultants, a third-party administrator of all tax-qualified pension plans, and
Daniel Sentell, director of communications of Broad Financial, each in Monsey,

Benefit Plan

defined benefit plan offers fixed benefits upon retirement—the resulting
contributions are determined by factors such as salary history and length of
employment. In a defined benefit plan, the employer assumes responsibility of a
fixed rate of return as determined by the government. Therefore, this plan
doesn’t offer flexibility in that an employer must contribute minimum funding
on an annual basis and guarantees the pension benefit regardless of investment

Who Should
Offer It:
is one of the most attractive plans to employees because of the guaranteed
benefits, and employers can contribute more than other plans, earning greater
tax deductions. Small business owners with significant taxable income (to the
point where a $52,000 deduction—the max under a profit-sharing plan—won’t cut
it) should consider this plan.

Profit Sharing

profit sharing plan is where an employer can create multiple contribution
categories—for example: top-tier for principals, second-level for supervisors,
third-level for the rest of the staff—and contributions are made at employer
discretion (up to $52,000 annually in 2014).

Who Should
Offer It:
plan offers flexibility because the small business owner can modify the
contribution amount annually based on available profits, which makes it a great
option for small businesses that need to be conservative with their cash assets
but would still like to attract talented employees with a retirement package. 


is one of the most popular, standard retirement plans. Employees save for
retirement from their paycheck before taxes are taken out, and employers usually
make a matching contribution.

Who Should Offer It: Job seekers
are most familiar with this type of plan, so small business owners looking to attract
potential employees quickly can advertise this incentive on a job description
in one simple one word: 401k. The plan also helps to retain them when small
business owners can provide an employer match, which also earns the business
tax deductions.


This plan contains all the features of a
standard 401k, but it is designed specifically for self-employed individuals. Only those who claim at least some self-employed income on a
1099 are eligible to open one.

Should Offer It:
This plan is ideal for small business owners who don’t have
employees and who don’t have plans to hire.

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